The Asia-Pacific region is home to plenty of markets, both developed and emerging, that receive ample attention. Developed markets in the region that frequently capture investors’ include Australia and Japan.
However, an oft-overlooked Asia-Pacific developed market could be the place to be this year and, fortunately, there is a corresponding exchange traded fund for U.S. investors to use to get in on the action. New Zealand is the market and the iShares MSCI New Zealand Capped ETF (ENZL) is the ETF.
“HSBC forecasts the economy will grow 3.4 percent in 2014 – the fastest pace since 2007 and well above trend growth of 2.5 percent,” according to CNBC. The bullish outlook for New Zealand is something of a surprise given that growth in Australia, one of New Zealand’s largest trading partners, is expected to sag.
Last year, ENZL jumped 12.6% while the iShares MSCI Australia ETF (EWA) gained less than 2%. New Zealand equities rose even as the Reserve Bank of New Zealand refused to engage in interest rate reductions or quantitative easing of any form. At 2.5%, New Zealand is home to some of the developed world’s highest benchmark interest rates and it is widely expected RBNZ will be the lone developed world central bank to raise rates this year – perhaps as soon as late in the current quarter. [New Zealand ETF at Crossroads Ahead of Rate Hikes]
Catalysts for further upside in New Zealand include construction spending and a housing boom, CNBC reported. The materials and industrial sectors combine for 31.5% of ENZL’s weight. Consumer discretionary, which could also offer some leverage to the housing boom, is almost 16% of the ETF’s weight.
However, RBNZ has not been shy about warning that it will take steps to cool the property market there if it overheats and some of New Zealand’s largest industrial firms, including some ENZL holdings, have previously complained about the ill effects of the country’s strong dollar. If RBNZ raises rates as appears likely, the kiwi would like strengthen some more. [New Zealand ETF Holdings Bemoan Strong Kiwi]
Some forex traders are betting New Zealand’s benchmark interest rate could nearly double over the next two years. That is not necessarily a bad thing as ENZL has already defied comparatively high rates and a strong currency. Plus, the ETF has a trailing 12-month yield of 4.35% and a three-year standard deviation of 18.07%, according to iShares data. By comparison, EWA’s three-year standard deviation is almost 23%.
iShares MSCI New Zealand Capped ETF
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.