U.S. stocks remain the best cars on the lot and with the S&P 500 down 2.1% over the past week, that is not saying much.
International equities and the relevant exchange traded funds continue to lag by noticeably margins, opening the door for traders to exploit that theme with bearish ETFs. Consider this: Over the past three months, the S&P 500 is essentially flat, but the iShares MSCI Emerging Markets ETF (NYSEArca: EEM) is off 14.2%. [Be Careful With International ETFs]
Ex-U.S. developed markets have given investors little choice but to stick with U.S. stocks to maintain long equity exposure. Over the past 90 days,the iShares MSCI EAFE ETF (NYSEArca: EFA) and the Vanguard FTSE Developed Markets ETF (NYSEArca: VEA) are down an average of 9.2%.
Making those performances all the more alarming is that EFA and VEA, two of the largest ETFs offering investors exposure to EAFE equities, are falling even as the Bank of Japan and the European Central Bank continue efforts to depress their respective currencies. Japan and Eurozone nations combine for nearly half of the geographic weights of EFA and VEA.
All of that is good news for the ProShares Short MSCI EAFE (NYSEArca: EFZ). EFZ is the inverse though not leveraged answer to EFA and that lack of leverage could make the ETF appealing to a broader audience of investors looking to hedge their long EAFE exposure. EFZ is up 9.2% over the past three months compared to an8.9% loss for EFA and the inverse fund may not be done delivering upside.
“EFA has been a weak performer for over a year and during the rally in the S&P 500 from 10/15 to last week, it had reflected relative weakness too,” notes Chris Kimble of Kimble Charting Solutions. “As you can see by the lower left inset (chart below), EFZ is doing rather well compared to the S&P 500 over the past 11 days.”