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Frontier Markets ETF Could Again be a Buy


Lost in the fervor surrounding this year’s renaissance by emerging markets stocks and exchange traded funds is this tidbit: Frontier market equities are once again outpacing their emerging counterparts.

At least that is the case in a matchup between the iShares MSCI Frontier 100 ETF (FM) and the iShares MSCI Emerging Markets ETF (EEM) , the second-largest emerging markets ETF by assets. The $783 million FM is up 14.5% year-to-date, a performance that is roughly 360 basis points better than EEM.

FM’s returns this year are impressive when considering the ETF swooned in June as the militant group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) caused a spate of violence in the Middle East. Rising tensions in the region pressured bourses in Kuwait, Qatar and the Unite Arab Emirates, among others. [Another Rough Day of the UAE ETF]

Those countries are three of FM’s four largest country weights, although FM’s exposure to Qatar and the UAE is gradually being reduced because those nations were previously promoted to the MSCI Emerging Markets Index. Nigeria, itself no stranger to militant violence, is almost 14% of FM’s weight. The ETF tumbled almost 9% from June 6 through June 30, but since then, FM has rallied nearly 7%.

FM’s recent strength and encouraging technical action could be signs that another buying opportunity in the largest frontier markets ETF is afoot.

“After an ugly undercut of a prior swing low in late June, $FM has recovered nicely and formed a tight range above the 50-day MA, with momentum starting to build (the 20-day EMA crossed above the 50ma),” notes Deron Wagner of Morpheus Trading Group. “Note the dry up in volume, especially over the past few weeks which is bullish.”

FM is essentially flat since July 23, the day Saudi Arabia announced it will begin opening its financial markets to foreign investors next year.

Saudi Arabia has steps to take before its presence is felt in ETFs that benchmark to MSCI indices. The index provider currently does not classify Saudi Arabia as an emerging or frontier market, however it is a member of the MSCI GCC Countries Index, according to MSCI.

That means MSCI would need to create an MSCI Saudi Arabia Index before the country can even be considered for entry into well-known indices such as the MSCI Emerging Markets Index or the MSCI Frontier 100 Index. [What Saudi Arabia Could Mean to Frontier ETFs]

iShares MSCI Frontier 100 ETF



ETF Trends editorial team contributed to this post. Tom Lydon’s clients own shares of EEM.

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.