For a good part of this year, the Market Vectors Russia ETF (NYSEArca: RSX) and rival Russia exchange traded funds fought off tumbling oil prices to be the best-performing ETFs tracking BRIC economies.
But in recent weeks, Russian equities have slid, weighing on RSX and positioning the largest Russia ETF for a disappointing finish to 2015. Supporting the Russian equities market, a more stable ruble currency, improved oil outlook and potential cooperation between Russia an the west have renewed investor confidence. [Oil Prices Remain a Drag on the Russia ETF]
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. Russia is the largest non-OPEC oil producer in the world. Slumping oil prices has made the ruble one of the worst-performing emerging markets currencies, bad news for a country that depends on oil for a larger part of government revenue than any other non-OPEC nation. [More Issues for Russia ETFs]
Add to the all issue is the fact Russia remains mired in its worst post-Soviet era recession with signs pointing to that recession worsening.
“Russia’s gross domestic product had been making small gains in recent months, but contracted 0.3% in November, according to the nation’s Economy Ministry,” reports Teresa Rivas for Barron’s. “On a year-over-year basis, Russia’ GDP declined 4% in November. That brings the total decline from the start of the year through November 30 to 3.7%.”