Russia exchange traded funds, rarely funds to lack for volatility, have been on a wild ride in recent days as oil prices and the ruble have continued tumbling while fears of a sovereign default escalated.
Down 34.2% in the past month, the Market Vectors Russia ETF (NYSEArca: RSX) has traded in a range of 20% today, trading as low as $12.47 and as high as $14.97 a day after the Russian central bank boosted interest rates to 17% from 10.5%. The rate hike was the second since Thursday and in the span of less than week Russian borrowing costs have more than doubled from 8%. [Another Interesting Day for Russia ETFs]
That underscores inherent volatility in Russian equities. For example, RSX has a three-year standard deviation of 25.8%, or nearly 1,100 basis points above that of the iShares MSCI Emerging Markets ETF (NYSEArca: EEM).
Turbulence for Russian stocks and ETFs is once again shining a light on the Direxion Daily Russia Bear 3x Shares (NYSEArca: RUSS) and the Direxion Daily Russia Bull 3x Shares (NYSE: RUSL), the triple-leveraged answers to RSX.
As of midday Tuesday, roughly $160 million notional had traded in RUSS, the bearish Russia ETF. With Tuesday’s 8% gain (at this writing), RUSS has nearly tripled in the past month.
“If RUSS was around in 1998, Long–Term Capital Management might still be around,” said Direxion Managing Director Michael Eschmann in an interview with ETF Trends in reference to the infamous collapse of the hedge fund following Russia’s 1998 sovereign debt default.
That might be the case, but speaking to the here and now, Eschmann notes Russia’s current bout of market volatility is exactly the type of situation ETFs such as RUSL and RUSS were created for. RUSL and RUSS have been down this road, proving their utility for adventurous in the wake of Russia’s invasion of neighboring Ukraine in the first quarter. [Leveraged ETFs Loving Putin’s Chicanery]