Ratings Upgrade For a Once-Hot Emerging Market

The iShares MSCI Philippines ETF (NYSEArca: EPHE) is up nearly 16% year-to-date, less than half the returns offered by the MSCI Emerging Markets Index. However, the Philippines exchange traded fund got some good news last week thanks to a credit ratings upgrade.

Fitch Ratings upped its rating on the Philippines to BBB from BBB- with a stable outlook.

Strong and consistent macroeconomic performance has continued, underpinned by sound policies that are supporting high and sustainable growth rates,” said Fitch. “Investor sentiment has also remained strong, which is evident from solid domestic demand and inflows of foreign direct investment. As such, there is no evidence so far that incidents of violence associated with the administration’s campaign against the illegal drug trade have undermined investor confidence.”

Last year, the Philippine presidential race weighed on investor sentiment as Rodrigo Duterte had been tight-lipped on what he would do to support the economy, fueling uncertainty over the economic outlook. In the weeks before the election, investors dumped Philippine equities, expressing uncertainty over Duterte’s economic plans and lack of policy-making experience, reports Lillian Karunungan for Bloomberg.

The $176.2 million EPHE tracks the MSCI Philippines Investable Market Index and holds 42 stocks. EPHE debuted over seven years ago and remains the only dedicated to Philippine equities.