The struggles of emerging markets equities and exchange traded funds are not confined to a particular region. No longer do Latin America ETFs have a monopoly on laggard status. Asia’s status as a beacon of emerging markets strength has been dealt a serious blow this year and that sentiment extends well beyond China.
That includes the iShares MSCI Malaysia ETF (NYSEArca: EWM), an ETF which has tumbled 15% this year and fell to a new 52-week low on Thursday. ast year, EWM lost 11.6%, including paid dividends, roughly triple the loss incurred by the MSCI Emerging Markets Index.
Prime Minister Najib Razak has been cutting down on government subsidies to limit fiscal risks in an effort to steer the country toward high-income status and toward more domestic consumption. Consumption is now said account for over half of Malaysia’s gross domestic product. [Malaysia Economy Gains Strength]
While some emerging markets, India being a prime example, have benefited from sliding oil prices, Malaysia is not one of those markets. In fact, the country and EWM have been rocked by plunging commodities prices.
“Then there is the country’s deteriorating terms of trade situation. In 2014 commodity exports accounted for 26% of exports and 18% of GDP. With palm oil, crude and refined products and natural gas, Malaysia’s key export commodities all heading lower, this is putting pressure on Malaysia’s fiscal situation,” according to the Global Investor.
Because Malaysia is the only net oil exporter among the ASEAN nations, the economy there is also being crimped by the stronger U.S. dollar. Earlier this year, Oxford Economics warned that Malaysia, Chile and Turkey were among the emerging markets most at risk of a stronger USD, reports Ansuya Harjani for CNBC.