The iShares MSCI South Korea Capped ETF (NYSEArca: EWY), the largest US-listed exchange traded fund tracking stocks in South Korea, slid 4.6% last week as global investors fretted about North Korea’s latest efforts to potentially launched intercontinental ballistic missiles, but some market observers see the slide in South Korean stocks as short-lived.
“While South Korean stocks suffered their worst week since February 2016 as Trump dialed up his warning to North Korea on threats to U.S. allies, investors including Shinyoung Asset Management and Korea Investment Management said the sell off is an opportunity to snap up consumer companies as President Moon Jae-in takes steps to stoke demand,” reports Bloomberg.
EWY, which tracks the MSCI Korea 25/50 Index, holds 113 stocks. Amid the geopolitical wrangling, the ETF has recently lost some assets, but is traditionally a favorite among investors due to South Korea’s advanced economy and the country’s emphasis on technology. Technology is EWY’s largest sector weight at 37.6%, more than double the ETF’s second-largest sector weight, which is financial services.
Low energy prices and cheap financing have also supported investor sentiment and positive outlook for earnings growth ahead. Tech companies, such as Samsung Electronics, are leading hopes of a turnaround in earnings. South Korea is Asia’s fourth-largest economy behind China, Japan and India and is one of the most advanced emerging markets.
“The MSCI Korea Consumer Discretionary Index of 18 companies is at a three-month low even as consumer confidence remains buoyant amid Moon’s pledge to boost spending, exposing a gap between the economy and investor sentiment on the sector. Consumption improved in June and the momentum may continue in the second half, according to the Finance Ministry,” according to Bloomberg.
U.S. officials are coordinating with their South Korean counterparts, focusing more on diplomacy and economic sanctions against North Korea, while noting that military action against the oppressive North Korean regime is not the desired course of action. Since the start of the third quarter, EWY has added $14.1 million in new assets.
Home to $3.6 billion in assets under management and more than 17 years old, EWY is one of the largest and old single-country ETFs in the U.S. This year, it is also one of the best-performing individual country ETFs as highlighted by a year-to-date pop of 24%.
For more information on the South Korean markets, visit our South Korea category.
The opinions and forecasts expressed herein are solely those of Tom Lydon, and may not actually come to pass. Information on this site should not be used or construed as an offer to sell, a solicitation of an offer to buy, or a recommendation for any product.