To the Lows and Beyond: Some EM ETFs Primed for Ugliness (EWZ, EWT, BIK)
Another market sell-off on Monday meant another sea of red for ETFs tracking both developed and emerging economies. With yields on Italian and Spanish two-year sovereigns soaring, and rumors going around that Spanish banks will be downgraded by Moody's Investors Service, the waters are becoming harder to navigate for emerging market ETFs.
In fact, the only green spots that can be found among emerging market ETFs after Monday's drubbing are with inverse funds such as the ProShares UltraShort Brazil (NYSE: BZQ) and the ProShares UltraShort FTSE China 25 (NYSE: FXP).
That is a testament to the vulnerability of select emerging market ETFs. The upside in funds such as BZQ and FXP may be far from over as plenty of traditional long emerging markets funds look all but certain to retest their 52-week lows in the near-term. The following funds standout and not for good reasons:
One of the biggest knocks on EWZ has been the ETF's heavy allocation to Brazil's state-run oil company, Petrobras (NYSE: PBR). EWZ's current weight to that stock is almost 17%. Petrobras, which has long been the worst-performing major oil stock listed in the U.S., slid 9 percent on Monday on volume that was better than double the daily average.
EWZ, which saw unusually high turnover as well, touched $49.05, a new 52-week low today. The close below $50 is significant because the last couple of times EWZ dipped below there, buyers stepped in. Things look ominously different this time and that could be a harbinger of more downside to come. The last time EWZ spent a significant amount of time below $50 was during the darkest days of the financial crisis.
iShares MSCI Taiwan Index Fund (NYSE: EWT) EWT's woes should not come as a surprise to anyone. Not only is this ETF treated as a China play, it has been showing overt signs of being a laggard for months. That laggard status looks like it is about to catch up with EWT. The fund closed at $11.72 Monday, just 53 cents above its 52-week low.
A move below $11 could be psychologically fatal for EWT bulls, if there are any left. The ETF hasn't traded below that area in more than three years.
SPDR S&P BRIC 40 ETF (NYSE: BIK) If the SPDR S&P BRIC 40 ETF does one thing right, it is offering just a 4.4 percent weight to India, perhaps the most problematic of the BRIC quartet. If the ETF does something wrong it is allowing financials and energy names to command almost two-thirds of the total sector weight.
Eight of BIK's top-10 holdings are bank or oil stocks and Petrobras is included among that fray. BIK is about 6 percent above its 52-week low, but it could take just a couple of bad days for that 6 percent decline to materialize. Even a move below $20 would be cause for concern because BIK has not traded below there since October 2011.
Market Vectors LatAm Small-Cap Index ETF (NYSE: LATM) The Market Vectors LatAm Small-Cap Index ETF appears to have found support at $21. Problem is if $21 is violated, LATM's ticket to $20.40, the 52-week low, is punched. LATM is interesting in that more than 29 percent of its weight goes to Canadian and U.S. companies with Latin American exposure and it is also worth noting the ETF's exposure to Peru is arguably too small at just 0.8 percent.
LATM has no Colombia exposure and that is another strike against the fund. The biggest reason to steer clear of LATM in this environment is not because it is a small-cap ETF. It is because 38.3 percent of the fund's country weight goes to Brazil.
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