There are now over 200 single-country exchange traded funds trading in the U.S. with roughly $100 billion in combined assets under management.
But most of those ETFs are not pure trackers of a given country’s benchmark equity index. A few are. The Maxis Nikkei 225 Index Fund (NYSEArca: NKY), Horizons Korea KOSPI 200 ETF (NYSEArca: HKOR) and the Recon Capital DAX Germany ETF (NasdaqGM: DAX), the only U.S.-listed DAX-tracking ETF, come to mind.
Despite the dearth of ETFs that attempt to replicate foreign equity benchmarks, new research by Strategic International Securities (SIS), a New York-based registered investment advisor, indicates many of the single-country ETFs U.S. investors have access to do not skimp on correlations to the major stock benchmarks in those countries.
A great example is the iShares MSCI Italy Capped ETF (NYSEArca: EWI). As its name implies, EWI tracks an index from MSCI, but the lone U.S.-listed Italy ETF has an almost perfect correlation of 0.99 to Italy’s benchmark FTSE MIB Index, according SIS data. [Big Upside Seen for Italy ETF]
“If the euro continues to weaken the EWI will underperform the FTSE MIB up 21.8% in Q1 2015 because of the strong dollar. This is in contrast to the 8.8% increase in EWI for Q1 2015, which highlights the importance of hedging the currency with these ETFs,” according to SIS. [Reforms Could Lift Italy ETF]
The research firm highlights several other well-known single country ETFs as having stunningly intimate correlations to major equity benchmarks. That includes the iShares MSCI France ETF (NYSEArca: EWQ), which has a correlation to the CAC 40 of over 0.99. The iShares MSCI Germany ETF (NYSEArca: EWG), the largest Germany ETF and one of this year’s top asset-gathering ETFs, has a correlation to Germany’s DAX of over 0.92, according to SIS data.