Down 26.6% this year, the iShares MSCI South Africa ETF (NYSEArca: EZA) is one of the worst-performing major emerging markets exchange traded funds and despite a recent pop in South African equities, betting on significant upside for EZA in 2016 could prove to be losing wager.
Few of Africa’s equity markets have reflected oft-cited 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. [South Africa ETFs in Focus]
When Standard & Poor’s downgraded Brazil’s sovereign credit rating to junk status in September, market participants immediately began pondering which emerging market would be next to suffer the junk downgrade fate. South Africa was one of the first to be mentioned.
Earlier this month, Fitch Ratings pared its rating on South African debt to just one level above junk while S&P reduced its outlook on the country’s bonds to negative from stable.
Last week, “lowered the outlook to negative from stable on 10 South African governments including Cape Town and Johannesburg after lowering the outlook on South Africa’s sovereign rating” earlier in the week, reports Dimitra DeFotis for Barron’s.