Brexit Has Been A Bane For These ETFs
Thursday's Brexit vote, which will decide Great Britain's fate as a member of he European Union, has been charting the course for global financial markets for several weeks. With recent polling data suggesting Great Britain will opt to remain in the EU, stocks are climbing this week, but that still leaves some exchange traded funds with plenty of work to do.
A Brexit is also widely seen as bad for the pound, and some estimates are bold enough to call for a 20 percent to 30 percent drop for the British currency is Brexit comes to pass, explaining why the CurrencyShares British Pound Trust (NYSE: FXB) has been under pressure at various points this year.
Other ETFs, including some obvious candidates, have also been stung by the Brexit controversy. In fact, diversified Europe ETFs and some dedicated Eurozone funds, which exclude U.K. stocks, have been pinched by Brexit.
"For example, Vanguard FTSE Europe (NYSE: VGK), the largest of the European focused ETFs with $12.68 billion in assets, has a hefty 31.40% stake in United Kingdom domiciled securities, including HSBC Holdings and Royal Dutch Shell. Companies based in France (13.9% of assets), Germany (13.4%), Switzerland (13.4%), and Sweden (4.9%) are also well represented," said S&P Capital IQ in a note out Tuesday. "The Vanguard fund had the third-highest YTD outflows, $1.06 billion."
The iShares MSCI United Kingdom ETF (NYSE: EWU), the largest U.K. ETF trading in the U.S., has also felt investors' wrath in the months leading up to the Brexit vote. Year-to-date, investors have yanked nearly $277 million from EWU.
Underscoring Brexit's impact on EWU and U.K. equities, the ETF's year-to-date gain of 1.5 percent can easily be described as disappointing. Disappointing because EWU allocates 13 percent of its weight to the rebounding energy sector. Royal Dutch Shell Plc and BP Plc (NYSE: BP) are up an average of 13.3 percent this year. Those stocks combine for essentially all of EWU's energy exposure, but Brexit concerns are clearing trumping those stocks' contribution to EWU.
Historically, EWU isn't a volatile ETF. The fund has a three-year standard deviation of just 14.6 percent and allocates 30.5 percent of its weight to lower beta consumer staples and healthcare names, a trait that pumps the ETF's dividend yield north of 4 percent.
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