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Russia ETFs Extend Bullishness on Ukraine Truce

Exchange traded funds tracking Russian equities are among this year’s top-performing non-leveraged ETFs, emerging markets or otherwise. There could be more upside ahead for Russia ETFs as oil prices stabilize and if tensions with neighboring Ukraine continue to ebb.

The Market Vectors Russia ETF (RSX) , the largest and most heavily traded Russia ETF, climbed 3.8% last Thursday extending its gain in a holiday-shortened week to 11%, marking a third consecutive week of gains, reports Halia Pavliva for Bloomberg.

After plunging more than 42% last year, RSX is higher by 25.8% year-to-date, good for the second-best performance among non-leveraged ETFs behind the Guggenheim Solar ETF (TAN) .

“The dollar-denominated RTS Index of Russian stocks jumped 11 percent in the first quarter following a 45 percent plunge in 2014 that was the worst performance among 93 primary equity gauges tracked by Bloomberg,” according to the news agency. [Russia ETFs are Turning Around]

Ebullience toward Russian stocks is being felt by other ETFs, as well. The iShares MSCI Russia Capped ETF (ERUS) , the second-largest Russia ETF, is up 23.6% year-to-date, a performance topped by just four other ETFs. The iShares MSCI Emerging Markets Eastern Europe Index Fund ETF (ESR) , a fund that devotes the bulk of its weight to Russian stocks, is up 15.7% this year, good for the ninth-best showing among non-leveraged ETFs.

Russia ETFs have rebounded as of late despite speculation that lower oil prices and economic sanctions from the West could hamper Russian dividends. At best, Russian dividend growth is expected to be flat this year with cuts coming from the country’s energy and financial services firms. However, the weak ruble is helping Russian metals exporters bolster cash hoards to the point where some mining companies there could actually raise payouts. [EM Dividend ETF on the Mend]

Rebounding Russian equities and a more sanguine outlook regarding dividends there has propelled the WisdomTree Emerging Markets Equity Income Fund (DEM) to a year-to-date gain of 4.5%.

The $2.2 billion DEM, features an 18.9% weight to Russia, making that the ETF’s second-largest country allocation. That is more nearly five times the 3.8% Russia weight found in the MSCI Emerging Markets Index. DEM’s underlying index has a dividend yield of nearly 6.1%, nearly triple the trailing 12-month yield of 2.15% on the benchmark emerging markets gauge. [Russia Resurgence Powers This ETF]

Investors have added nearly $131 million in new assets to RSX this year.

Market Vectors Russia ETF