Exchange traded funds tracking Russian equities are dangerously flirting with bear markets, but that is not preventing investors from putting new capital to work in the funds.
On Monday, Russia’s RTS Index, a dollar-denominated gauge of Russian stocks, “entered a bear market as a court ruling restricting AFK Sistema from receiving dividend payments from its OAO Bashneft unit wiped a quarter off the holding’s value,” reports Ksenia Galouchko for Bloomberg.
Russia’s ruble fell to a record low Monday against a basket of U.S. dollars and euros even after the central bank attempted to assuage skittish global investors by saying it would step in to support the flailing currency.
Down nearly 3% Monday, the Market Vectors Russia ETF (NYSEArca: RSX) is currently off about 19.4% year-to-date, putting the ETF dangerously close to the 20% decline necessary to qualify the fund for the ominous bear market distinction. The rival iShares MSCI Russia Capped ETF (NYSEArca: ERUS) is also close to a bear market with a year-to-date loss of nearly 18%.
The falling ruble and declining stock prices has not prevented investors from returning to deeply discounted Russian stocks. Last week, RSX, the largest and most heavily traded Russia ETF, added over $182 million in new assets as it rose 1.3%. That brings the fund’s year-to-date inflows total to almost $306.2 million. [Returning to Russia ETFs]
The late September inflows to RSX are the ETF’s best pace of asset gathering since March when Russia invaded Ukraine.