Call it a potential catalyst or problem. Either way, hedge funds are loading up on bearish bets against Japanese stocks, but investors in the corresponding exchange traded funds don’t seem to mind.
During Thursday’s Asian session, the short selling ratio on Japan’s benchmark Nikkei rose to 38.3%, the highest level since Japan began keeping such records in 2008, according to a tweet by Rareview Macro founder Neil Azous.
Though it has been the wrong trade on Japanese stocks, short selling in Asia’s second-largest economy has been in style this year with levels rarely dipping much below 28% since the start of 2015, reports Leo Lewis for the Financial Times.
Various media outlets attribute the sharp increase in bearish bets against Japanese stocks to foreign investors, including some U.S. hedge funds. However, ETF investors are taking a markedly different tact.
Since the start of this month, investors have added nearly $635 million to the iShares MSCI Japan ETF (NYSEArca: EWJ), a total surpassed by just nine other ETFs. Bearish wagers against Japanese stocks come as the yen remains weak, though the CurrencyShares Japanese Yen Trust (NYSEArca: FXY) has perked up a bit this month, rising 0.4%. However, FXY is lower by 1.2% over the past 30 days and is off 2.5% this year. [Investors Still Like the Japan ETF Trade]