Rrussia’s country-specific exchange-traded funds are under pressure as moscow’s clatter across the ukrainian border fuels geopolitical risk.
The VanEck Russia ETF Vectors (NYSEArca: RSX) fell 3.0% over the past week, fell 3.1% over the past month and 13.0% over the past three months. RSX also suffered $ 69 million in net outflows over the past month, according to the ETF database.
The Russian ruble has depreciated more than eight months against the US dollar this week, with the local currency and dollar-denominated sovereign debt selling off, the Wall Street Journal reports.
The additional yield over US Treasuries on a Russian government bond in US dollars due 2023 has doubled since November, reflecting the increased perceived risk on Russian assets.
Russia’s weakness in assets, however, does not reflect the country’s otherwise strong economic position, with oil prices and a central bank that has repeatedly raised rates to support the national currency.
Market watchers have warned that geopolitics, not economics, is fueling volatility in Russian markets.
“Russia looks extraordinarily cheap,” Paul McNamara, emerging markets fund manager at GAM, told the WSJ. “Ukraine is the problem”.
Russia has amassed troops along the border with Ukraine in recent months, sparking international concerns over another military move across the border. The United States and the European Union have already enacted sanctions against Russia, which would likely be extended in the event of military action, analysts said. For example, the United States could restrict Russia’s access to U.S. dollar banking transactions, which would immediately affect Russia’s oil exports.
In addition, violent protests in Kazakhstan this week against rising fuel prices have added another layer to investor concerns. Protesters attempted to storm government buildings, and President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev ordered police and military to fire without warning. Meanwhile, Russia has said it will send troops to Kazakhstan to help the government, further adding to concerns that this could be an excuse to increase its military presence and influence with its neighbors.
“Markets are always on the lookout for possible Russian geopolitical involvement in the region, this is something investors with exposure to Russia always have in mind,” Simon Quijano-Evans, chief economist at Gemcorp. “There may be a fallout there and additional pressure on the ruble.”
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