Russian stocks and related exchange traded funds could be in for more pain ahead as Moscow warns of an economic recession if crude oil prices slide to $60 per barrel.
Russia equity ETFs are already in a bear market. Year-to-date, the Market Vectors Russia ETF (NYSEArca: RSX) declined 28.7%, iShares MSCI Russia Capped ETF (NYSEArca: ERUS) decreased 27.5% and SPDR S&P Russia ETF (NYSEArca: RBL) fell 28.4%.
The energy-heavy Russia ETFs could experience further weakness if oil prices continue to dip. RSX has a 42.4% position in energy stocks, with 7.9% in Gazprom and 7.5% in LukOil. ERUS includes 47.1% in energy stocks, with Gazprom 18.7% and LukOil 11.0%. Additionally, RBL has 48.1% in energy, with Gazprom 16.3% and LukOil 12.1%.
Finance Minister Anton Siluanov expects the Russian economy to expand less than 1% in 2015 even if oil prices hold steady and Western sanctions remain unchanged, reports Olga Tanas for Bloomberg.
Any further declines in the price of oil would only exacerbate an already battered economy that has been crippled by U.S. and European Union economic sanctions.
“Recession is inevitable in 2015 if the situation worsens,” Siluanov added. “If the oil price declines to $60 per barrel, the economy will have negative growth.”
Brent crude oil futures currently hover around $78.5 per barrel. Looking ahead, the International Energy Agency projects further weakness in the oil market as slow global demand and robust supply keep pressure on prices.
The Russian economy is expanding at its slowest pace since 2009. The economy grew 0.7% in the third quarter year-over-year.