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Emerging Market ETF Rallies to 17-Month High on Huge Volume


The iShares MSCI Emerging Markets Index Fund (EEM) traded more than double its average daily volume on Wednesday as the developing country ETF rallied 2% after U.S. lawmakers reached a deal to avert the fiscal cliff.

More than 101 million shares of EEM traded hands on Wednesday, compared with average daily volume of about 50 million shares the past three months. It was the ETF’s most active day since March 6, 2012, based on share volume.

In fact, the emerging market ETF’s shares outstanding climbed to a record last week as investors worried about the U.S. fiscal cliff have been favoring developing economies recently, Bloomberg News reports.

On Wednesday, EEM rose to its highest level price since August 2011 while the fund holds about $50 billion in assets under management.

Political uncertainty in the U.S. leading up to the fiscal cliff deadline has made emerging markets the big winners in recent weeks, Barron’s reports.

“This really demonstrates the renewed determination of U.S. investors to maximize exposure to these markets,” Michael Shaoul, CEO of Marketfield, told Bloomberg. “Given these flows we would have expected a strong first few sessions for emerging markets in 2013.”

EEM has been outperforming the S&P 500 since the end of August. The emerging market ETF is up 8.9% the last three months while SPDR S&P 500 (SPY) has posted a total return of 1.8%, according to Morningstar.

Benoit Anne, the head of emerging-market strategy at Societe Generale, in the Bloomberg article said a recent survey revealed a record number of clients, about 90%, are bullish on developing nation markets globally over the next three months. “Near-term uncertainties did not derail the fundamental view,” he wrote in a note. Investors will “probably turn even more bullish, now that the U.S. fiscal cliff problem has been addressed.”

Vanguard MSCI Emerging Markets (VWO) is the largest developing economy ETF with $59.7 billion in assets, according to Morningstar. VWO has an expense ratio of 0.20%, making it considerably cheaper than EEM, which charges 0.67%. Both ETFs track the same MSCI index, at least for now.

Vanguard plans to transition VWO to a new index managed by FTSE. [Vanguard Index Switch Sets Emerging Market ETF Showdown]

BlackRock (BLK) recently launched iShares Core MSCI Emerging Markets ETF (IEMG) , which has an expense ratio of 0.18%. [Vanguard Emerging Market ETF to Drop South Korea]

Dave Nadig at IndexUniverse notes that VWO and several other Vanguard ETFs will transition to new benchmarks this year.

iShares MSCI Emerging Markets Index Fund


Full disclosure: Tom Lydon’s clients own EEM and SPY.

The opinions and forecasts expressed herein are solely those of John Spence, 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.