New Delhi's Budget Pulls Rug From Under India ETFs

India country-specific ETFs plunged on Friday, with the BSE benchmark index experiencing its worst single day sell-off since August 2015, after the government revealed its annual budget and ended a longstanding tax exemption for equity investments.

Small-cap Indian stock ETFs were among the worst off Friday, with Market Vectors India Small-Cap Index ETF (NYSEArca: SCIF) down 6.3%, EGShares India Small Cap ETF (NYSEArca: SCIN) down 6.9% and iShares MSCI India Small-Cap ETF (NYSEArca: SMIN) down 5.0%.

Meanwhile, the WisdomTree India Earnings ETF (NYSE: EPI) and the iShares India 50 ETF (NASDAQ:INDY), two of the largest exchange traded funds dedicated to Indian stocks, fell 3.2% and 2.7%, respectively, while the S&P BSE Sensex Index plunged 840 points or 2.3%.

Triggering a mass sell-off in Indian equities, finance minister Arun Jaitley delivered his fourth annual budget and announced the end of a tax exemption on equity investments from long-term capital gains taxes, the Financial Times reports.

Starting in April, investors redeeming shares after holding their investments for more than a year will have to pay a 10% levy on all capital gains exceeding Rs100,000, or $1,560. Selling long-term stock investments have been tax free since 2004.

The sell-off on Friday was particularly worrisome as some observers feared India’s long bull run that has pushed up valuations toward a potential bubble territory could experience a sharp correction if any problems unbalanced the status quo.