Tepid Response by Canada ETFs to Surprise Rate Cut

The Bank of Canada joined the list of global central bank surprises Wednesday, announcing an unexpected interest rate cut of 25 basis points, bringing the country’s benchmark borrowing rate to 0.75%.

Unexpected though the rate cut may have been, U.S. investors do not appear enthused because the reaction by Canada exchange traded funds in early Wednesday trading has been lethargic at best. Predictably, the CurrencyShares Canadian Dollar Trust (NYSEArca: FXC), which tracks the Canadian dollar’s movement against the U.S. dollar, is under some pressure. FXC is off 1.5% on volume that will likely top the three-month daily trailing average and is one of just eight ETFs to have touched new 52-week lows to this point in Wednesday’s session.

FXC’s new lows today actually have the loonie ETF trading at its lowest levels in nearly six years. The reaction by equity-based Canada ETFs has been more muted. For example, the iShares MSCI Canada ETF (NYSEArca: EWC), the largest U.S.-listed Canada ETF, is trading slightly higher today while the First Trust Canada AlphaDEX Fund (NYSEArca: FCAN), a smart beta spin on Canadian stocks, is up nearly 1%.

The Bank of Canada cut rates in response to lower oil prices, which have plagued the loonie and Canadian stocks. With energy sector allocations of 22.6% and 29.6%, respectively, EWC and FCAN are levered to fluctuations in oil prices. [Cheap Oil Crimps Canada ETFs]

While near-term loonie weakness could lift Canadian stocks, neither EWC nor FCAN, or any U.S.-listed Canada ETF for that matter, is a currency hedged product. That means if the U.S. dollar remains persistently strong against its Canadian rival, investors’ returns in Canada ETFs will be eroded by loonie weakness and greenback strength.