Despite a tumbling currency and plunging commodities prices, the iShares MSCI South Africa ETF (NYSEArca: EZA) has outperformed the MSCI Emerging Markets Index on a year-to-date basis.
That is to say EZA has been less bad than the emerging markets bad as the South Africa ETF has slid about 16% compared to a 20% loss for the emerging markets index. More global investors and companies are taking a look at Africa for the growth opportunities in some rapidly expanding frontier economies. According to the Corporate Council on Africa, over 180 multinational companies, are considering or are already investing in Africa, reports Dina Gusovsky for CNBC.
However, few if any of the continent’s equity markets have reflected that long-term optimism this year. South African stocks have proven particularly vulnerable due to the country’s status as a major producer of precious metals, such as gold, palladium and platinum.
Inflation has been rising after a drought in the south pushed up food prices. Additionally, oil prices have been rebounding. The rising inflation will have an effect on consumer sectors. EZA’s largest sector component is consumer discretionary at 31.3%, followed by financials 29.9% and telecom services 11.8%. [South Africa ETFs in Focus]
Compounding EZA’s woes is the perceived vulnerability of the South African economy, Africa’s second-largest behind Nigeria, to rising U.S. interest rates.