The MSCI EAFE Index is one of the most widely followed benchmarks by global fund managers and serves as the underlying index for scores of funds, including the iShares MSCI EAFE ETF (EFA) , one of the world’s largest ETFs.
There are an increasing number ETF spins on the traditional EAFE fund, including dividend, low volatility and currency-hedged options. Some of these variations have proven successful, including the db X-trackers MSCI EAFE Hedged Equity Fund (DBEF) .
It is not a stretch to say single-country currency-hedged ETFs, such as the WisdomTree Japan Hedged Equity Fund (DXJ) and the db X-trackers MSCI Japan Hedged Equity Fund (DBJP) , have captivated investors’ attention. However, multi-country and regional offerings like, the WisdomTree Europe Hedged Equity Fund (HEDJ) and the db X-Trackers MSCI Europe Hedged Equity Fund (DBEU) have ascended to prominence as well. [Hedged Euro ETFs on the Move]
DBEF is ascending in its own right. Although DBEF must be contend with the effects of a rising British pound because the U.K. accounts for 18.9% of the ETF’s weight, the fund is getting some help from declines in other currencies. [Carry Trade ETFs]
Japan is the ETF’s largest country weight at nearly 20% and four Eurozone nations combining for 28% of the fund’s top-10 holdings are found among DBEF’s top-10 holdings. Over the past month, the CurrencyShares Japanese Yen Trust (FXY) and the CurrencyShares Euro Currency Trust (FXE) have fallen while DBEF has jumped 3.1%.
In addition to the yen, pound and euro, the other major currency exposures in DBEF include the Swiss franc, Australian dollar and Swedish krona. The franc has also traded slightly lower over the past month and while the Australian remains one of the highest-yielding developed market currencies in the world, the Reserve Bank of Australia has made clear over the past several years it would much prefer to see the Aussie decline rather than rise.
That has not been the case this year as AUD/USD is higher, but any material weakness for the Aussie combined with ongoing retrenchment in the euro and yen would be enough for DBEF to ward off pound strength and build on the all-time the ETF made Thursday. [Currency Hedged ETFs Gain Favor]
Investors have shown a willingness to bet on DBEF. The ETF has $572.3 million in assets under management, $294.4 million of which has come into the fund this year.
db X-trackers MSCI EAFE Hedged Equity Fund
Tom Lydon’s clients own shares of EFA and HEDJ.