Not a Dutch Treat: Netherlands ETF Struggles

In a year that has generally been kind to exchange traded funds tracking supposedly steady developed Europe equity markets, the iShares MSCI Netherlands ETF (NYSEArca: EWN) stands out and not for the right reasons.

The $228.6 million EWN, the lone Netherlands ETF, is saddled with a modest year-to-date loss. Slack economic data is hampering the Dutch economy, which was once seen as resilient during the darkest days of the European sovereign debt crisis.

The Dutch economy contracted 1.4% in the first quarter. In a reversal of the harsh weather excuse used by so many U.S. companies to explain disappointing first-quarter results, the culprit behind the Dutch economy’s poor start to the year is believed to be a mild winter in some parts of Europe that kept a lid on natural gas exports from the Netherlands, according to NL Times.

Job growth in the Netherlands also faltered in the first quarter with job losses of 32,000, NL Times reported. EWN’s struggles come as other ETFs devoted to Central and Northern European countries are in the green.

The iShares MSCI Germany ETF (NYSEArca: EWG) is not “soaring” per se, but the biggest Germany ETF is still up almost 2% this year. The iShares MSCI Sweden ETF (NYSEArca: EWD) is higher by nearly 7% year-to-date. [Go Dutch With This ETF]

Perhaps a more searing indictment of EWN’s 2014 laggard status comes by way of the iShares MSCI Switzerland Capped ETF (NYSEArca: EWL) and the iShares MSCI Belgium Capped ETF (NYSEArca: EWK).

The comparison of EWN to the Switzerland and Belgium ETFs is relevant because like those ETFs, EWN features a large weight to the consumer staples sector, which has been a solid performer as of late. [Super Staples ETFs]