In what has been another trying year for emerging markets equities and exchange traded funds, the iShares MSCI Russia Capped ETF (NYSEArca: ERUS) and the Market Vectors Russia ETF (NYSEArca: RSX) have undoubtedly been pleasant surprises.
ERUS, which tracks the MSCI Russia Index, and RSX, the largest Russia ETF trading in the U.S., are up 11.3% and 13.8%, respectively, year-to-date while the MSCI Emerging Markets Index is off nearly 13%.
“A key to Russia’s story is the central bank’s foreign exchange repurchase (repo) operations earlier this year, which provided massive support for Russian external liabilities by removing uncertainties over “Russia Inc.’s” ability to repay U.S. dollar-denominated debt,” said PIMCO in a recent note.
The combination of a weakening energy outlook and the depreciating currencies are dragging on the ETFs that cover the major exporting countries. For instance, the energy sector makes up more than 40% of the portfolio in RSX. Looking ahead observers remain cautious over market outlook, and While President Vladimir Putin and other Russian politicians argue that the worst is over, the economy is expected to remain in recession for the year. Investors are also expressing concern regarding one of Russia’s worst recessions in the post-Soviet era. [Issues for Russia ETFs]
In June, the Bank of Russia cut its one-week auction to 11.5% from 12.5%. Just six months ago, Russia’s central bank boosted its benchmark interest rate to 17% from 10.5%. However, rising inflation there is seen as a hurdle to additional easing. Last week, the Bank of Russia estimated June inflation to be 15.6%. [Russia Economy, ETFs on the Mend]