As EM ETFs Wilt, Gazprom Upgrade Does Little for Russia Funds

ETF Trends

Exchange traded funds tracking Russia, the “R” in the famous BRIC acronym, are performing less badly than diversified emerging markets ETFs on Tuesday, though that is not saying much.

Evidence is mounting that some behemoth emerging markets funds, such as the iShares MSCI Emerging Markets ETF (EEM) and the Vanguard FTSE Emerging Markets ETF (VWO) , are coming under increased selling pressure as investor are again speculating about Federal Reserve tapering and are growing tired of waiting for developing world equities to start tracking their U.S. counterparts higher.  [Dismal Evidence Mounts for Emerging Markets ETFs]

Still, the three large-cap ETFs, a group comprised of the Market Vectors Russia ETF (RSX) , the iShares MSCI Russia Capped ETF (ERUS) and the SPDR S&P Russia ETF (RBL) , are holding up on Tuesday…sort of.

A J.P. Morgan upgrade of Russian energy giant Gazprom is proving to be the almost catalyst. The bank boosted its rating on Gazprom to overweight due to a potential gas deal with China.

“No other large cap stock in Russia offers better potential to double over the next three years than Gazprom, we believe. “We see the company’s valuation as still undemanding, and its ability to generate cash remains intact,” according to a J.P. Morgan note obtained by Bloomberg.

Russia’s economy is heavily dependent on energy production and exports, leading to arguably excessive weights to the energy sector in the aforementioned ETFs.  [Oil Still an Issue for Russia ETFs]

With Gazprom being one of the largest Russian energy producers, the stock looms large in an ETF like RSX and even more so in ERUS. RSX, the largest and oldest Russia ETF, devotes almost 8% of its weight to Gazprom. That is not even half the 20.8% the $325.9 million ERUS allocates to Gazprom.  RBL is not a shrinking Gazprom violet, either, with a 17.2% weight to the stock.

The bigger the weight to Gazprom, the better the performance by Russia ETFs on Tuesday. RSX is trading fractionally lower, RBL is flat on above average volume while ERUS is slightly higher, also on above average turnover.

In dollar terms, the average gain for Russia ETFs today after the Gazprom upgrade is a third of a penny, indicating broader emerging markets weakness is trumping decent stock-specific news.

Market Vectors Russia ETF

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