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Currency Conversion: Strong EM ETFs Tied to Solid Currencies


Plenty of emerging markets have tumbled this year. The Brazil real, Indian rupee, Indonesian rupiah and the Turkish lira are among the worst offenders. Heading into Thursday’s trading session, the rupee and rupiah were saddled with year-to-date losses of 20% and 15%, respectively.

The WisdomTree India Earnings ETF (EPI) and the Market Vectors Indonesia ETF (IDX) are down 29.9% and 24.7%, respectively, due in large part to the dismal performances of the rupee and rupiah. The largest Brazil and Turkey ETFs are down an average of 24.4%, confirming the fact that sliding currencies have been bad news for emerging markets equities this year. [India ETFs Plunge as Rupee Hits New Low]

While it has been a dismal year for many diversified and single-country emerging markets ETFs, some have recently shown signs of strength. That could mean the ETFs that have recently been less bad could be leaders when the emerging markets tide turns for the better. Those funds track countries with currencies that have been comparatively strong against the broader emerging markets lot.

Take the examples of the iShares MSCI Poland Capped ETF (EPOL) and the Market Vectors Poland ETF (PLND) . Year-to-date, EPOL is down 8.4%, but EPOL and PLND have remained sturdy and have actually climbed since late May when talk of Federal Reserve tapering started. The reasons: Poland recently notched a current account surplus and the Polish zloty has been significantly less bad than other emerging currencies. [Solid Zloty Helps Poland ETF]

Like the zloty, the Taiwanese dollar has been noticeably less bad than other developing world currencies with a year-to-date loss of about 3.4%. The iShares MSCI Taiwan ETF (EWT) has benefited to some extent. EWT is down just 1.8% this year. Taiwan, like South Korea and Singapore, has a reputation for being one of the calmer investable Asian markets. EWT has a beta against the S&P 500 of just 0.54 and a three-year standard deviation of about 19.6%, according to iShares data. [An Asian ETF Standout]

There is another example and it is a big one: China. The Chinese yuan has actually risen this year, an anomaly among emerging currencies. Over the past 90 days, the SPDR S&P China ETF (GXC) is up 1.4%. By comparison, the iShares MSCI Capped Brazil ETF (EWZ) is down 15.2% over the same time as the Brazilian real has continued its slide.


ETF Trends editorial team contributed to this post.

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.