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Fragile Five ETFs Not At All Fragile This Year ?

The policy tightening in the U.S. has always been a concern for the emerging market bloc. As we already know, taper talks roiled the emerging markets in 2013 and then kept on disturbing the league occasionally as and when rate hike fears cropped up.

This along with the upheaval in the second-largest emerging market economy, China, led to questions on the health of the entire emerging market segment. Among the bloc, the fear was extreme for the ‘Fragile Five’ countries – Brazil, Turkey, India, Indonesia and South Africa.

This was because as these are hugely reliant on foreign capital to finance their external deficits which put these at risk as the Fed left its easy money era. Widening current account deficit and worsening external debt conditions were the main headaches of the emerging pack.

However, things are in place for the Fragile Five country ETFs so far this year. Several changes – mainly political – have taken place in these countries in nearly three years since the taper tantrums and the key oil market has undergone a tectonic shift. Almost triple-digit then, oil prices went below the $30-a-barrel level a few days back. This gave a huge boost to oil-importing nations like India.

In a nutshell, global markets may be on the rocks this year, but these Fragile Five country ETFs have surged. Below we detail each country ETF and tell you the reason for its outperformance:

Brazil – iShares MSCI Brazil Capped (EWZ)

We represent Brazil with the large-cap ETF EWZ. The fund was up 25.9% in the last one month and is up 24.1 so far this year (as of March 23, 2016). While the economic growth prospect of the country is weakening, heightened political uproar is pushing up its market read: Catch these Brazil ETFs on a Rebound).

And this is not new to the Brazilian stocks and the related ETFs. Previously, we saw how any political drama related to president Dilma Rousseff lured investors to the country’s stocks. Speculation that Rousseff is incapable of dissuading the impeachment proceedings that have been called for against her and the prospect of a change in governance set the Brazil ETFs on fire (read: Brazil Stocks, ETFs Ignore Slump: Rally on Rousseff Issues).

However, we are unsure of the rally. If the ultimate result does not go against Rousseff, the rally may lose its way. EWZ has a Zacks ETF Rank #4 (Sell) with a High risk outlook.

Turkey – iShares MSCI Turkey (TUR)

This once-woebegone economy is also sending positive vibes on the economic front. Notably, the country has attracted the largest annual foreign direct investment in 2015 since the global financial turmoil (read: 4 EM ETFs that are Still in Green this Year).

Notably, slumping oil prices are vital to the Turkish economy as the country imports more than 90% of oil for about 70% of its total energy needs. Added to this, interest rates cut in February to boost economic growth also favored the Turkey ETF.

TUR is up about 14.2% in the year-to-date frame and added about 9.8% in the last one month (as of March 23, 2016). However, the Turkish economy is fraught with political risks, inflationary pressure and currency woes. The fund has a Zacks ETF Rank #4.

India – India Earnings Fund (EPI)

While almost all India ETFs were in the green in the last one-month frame (as of March 23, 2016), we are representing the country with EPI. The fund was up 12.7% in the last one month, but has lost 3.9% so far this year (as of March 23, 2016) (read: 5 ETFs to Profit from the Oil Collapse).

The reduction in its current account deficit and above-average growth prospects (as the government is exhibiting its reforms plan) are the key drivers of India ETFs. "The real estate Bill, the new Hydrocarbon Exploration Licensing Policy, the Bill to amend the Companies Act and the proposed introduction of the bankruptcy code” made analysts optimistic about this country. EPI has a Zacks ETF Rank #3 (Hold) with a High risk outlook.

Indonesia – iShares MSCI Indonesia Investable Market Index Fund (EIDO)

Indonesia is benefiting from policy easing as the country’s central bank has slashed its key interest rate for the third time this year to boost its waning economy. Most recently, the bank cut its benchmark interest rate by 25 basis points to 6.75% after enacting equal-measured cuts in February and January (read: Indonesia ETFs in Focus on Third Rate Cut).

As a result, Indonesia ETF EIDO added about 5.9% in the last one month and is up 11.2% in year-to-date frame (as of March 23, 2016). The fund has a Zacks ETF Rank #3 with a High risk outlook.

South Africa – iShares MSCI South Africa (EZA)

The South Africa ETF – EZA – has added about 12.1% so far this year (as of March 21, 2016). South Africa is a commodity-rich nation. Since the greenback was in shambles at the start of the year, commodity prices, especially metals, went up as most of these are priced in U.S. dollars.

Plus, South African Reserve Bank hiked interest rates in mid March by 25 bps to 7% which benefitted the bank stocks to a large extent. In the last one month (as of March 23, 2016), the fund gained 12.5%.

Still, the fundamentals of the economy are far from strong. EZA has a Zacks ETF Rank #5 (Strong Sell) with a High risk outlook (read: Can South Africa ETF Sustain its Recent Rally?).

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ISHARS-BRAZIL (EWZ): ETF Research Reports
 
WISDMTR-IN EARN (EPI): ETF Research Reports
 
ISHARS-MS INDON (EIDO): ETF Research Reports
 
ISHRS-MSCI TURK (TUR): ETF Research Reports
 
ISHARS-S AFRICA (EZA): ETF Research Reports
 
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