For months, exchange traded funds holding Russian stocks defied the odds, adding billions of new assets despite being among the worst emerging markets single-country ETFs.
Albeit modestly and perhaps temporarily, the trend of inflows to ETFs such as the Market Vectors Russia ETF (NYSEArca: RSX) is abating. On Tuesday, traders yanked nearly $28 million from RSX, the ETF’s biggest one-day outflow since mid-July, reports Elena Popina for Bloomberg. “The redemptions were the first since August and came about two weeks after the number of shares outstanding in the fund touched all-time high of 99.3 million,” according to Bloomberg.
Although the less than $28 million pulled from RSX Tuesday is a fraction of the $1.3 billion investors have poured into the ETF this year and a scant percentage of the fund’s $1.9 billion in assets under management, those redemptions could be a sign that Russia’s lackluster economic growth and falling oil prices are forcing investors to reassess exposure to Russian equities.
As oil prices tumbled in November, Colombia was the only emerging market where stocks performed worse than in Russia. The Global X FTSE Colombia 20 ETF (NYSEArca: GXG) and RSX lost an average of 12.2% last month. [Oil Crushed These ETFs in November]
RSX’s vulnerability to weaker oil prices may also be forcing investors to focus on oil and the tumbling Russian ruble than the familiar selling point that lured them to Russia ETFs in the first place: Valuation. At less than five times earnings, Russia’s benchmark Micex Index trades at its biggest discount to a broader measure of emerging markets stocks in nearly 10 years. [Same Old Song for Russia ETFs]
However, the ruble recently touched record lows against the dollar on five consecutive days and the Russian economy is expanding at its slowest pace since 2009. The economy grew 0.7% in the third quarter year-over-year.