One of this year’s most vexing situations in the world of exchange traded funds is also an ongoing situation. That being continued inflows to Russia exchange traded funds even as stocks in the “R” of the BRIC quarter continue slumping.
Through Monday, the Market Vectors Russia ETF (NYSEArca: RSX) has added $111.7 million this month. Last week, RSX, the largest, oldest and most heavily traded Russia ETF, added $74 million “giving the largest fund focused on the nation’s equities a 10th week of inflows, the longest stretch since 2008,” report Halia Pavliva and Elena Popina for Bloomberg.
Last month, Russia and Ukraine reached a truce that has reduced some of the violence, which had previously weighed on RSX and Russian equities, in the region. Even with diminished geopolitical risks, there are risks RSX and rivals, such as the iShares MSCI Russia Capped ETF (NYSEArca: ERUS), must contend with, namely slumping oil prices.
With oil in its deepest selloff in two years, the United States Brent Oil Fund (NYSEArca: BNO) has plunged 14% in the past month and hit a new 52-week low Tuesday. Russia, one of the largest non-OPEC producers in the world, prices its crude in Brent terms. RSX allocates 43.1% of its weight to the energy sector, nearly triple the ETF’s 15.8% weight to materials stocks. [Oil ETFs Remain Depressed]
ERUS has a 47.5% energy sector weight, almost triple the ETF’s weight to the financial services group. Four of the top seven holdings in ERUS are Russian energy producers. Down 23.3% and 21.1%, respectively, year-to-date, RSX and ERUS meet the criteria for being in bear markets. [Russia ETFs Ebb Towards Bear Market]
Yet that is not keeping investors at bay. Rather, in a refrain heard throughout much of 2014, global investors are being lured to Russian stocks by chronically low valuations that are getting lower.