Catalonia is voicing its desire for an independence vote as well, potentially heightening volatility in Spanish stocks and country-specific exchange traded funds, including the largest Spain ETF, the iShares MSCI Spain Capped ETF (NYSEArca: EWP).
Spanish stock observers are keeping a close on eye on the situation as Catalonia makes up almost one-fifth of Spain’s gross domestic product and one-quarter of exports. Losing the region would put a significant dent in Spain’s ability to dig itself out of the prolonged slump.
If Catalonia separated from Spain, financial sectors could take a hit, namely Spanish Caixabank and Banco De Sabadell, which are headquartered in Catalonia. Financial services is EWP’s largest sector weight at 41.3%.
“The tension between Spain and Catalonia has been centuries in the making, but the process of the latter seeking independence began in earnest in 2012 when parties seeking independence won a large majority in regional elections,” reports Barbara Kollmeyer for MarketWatch.
Investors can also consider the factor based SPDR MSCI Spain Quality Mix ETF (NYSEArca: QESP) as an alternative to the cap-weighted EWP. The quality factor “captures excess returns to stocks that are characterized by low debt, stable earnings growth and other ‘quality’ metrics,” according to MSCI.