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Weak Euro Doubles Eurozone ETF Losses
By Ugo Egbunike | 11 April, 2012

[This article previously appeared on our sister site,]

Lingering doubts about the health of the eurozone in the week before Easter helped pull the euro lower last week, about doubling losses for US investors who own euro-denominated funds focused on continental Europe.

The euro depreciated against the greenback by 2.08 percent, further dragging down the performance of the iShares S&P Europe 50 Index Fund (NYSEArca: IEV) and the Vanguard MSCI European ETF (NYSEArca: VGK). Currency losses made up roughly half of the two ETFs’ declines of more than 4 percent last week.

Those results made clear once again the influence currency fluctuations have on returns in globalised investment markets, as IndexUniverse’s Currency Impact Report shows.

The table below illustrates the euro’s effects in particular.


For a larger view, please click on the image above.


The euro’s swoon affected other European ETFs that aren’t even denominated in euros, notably the iShares MSCI Switzerland Index Fund (NYSEArca: EWL).

EWL fell nearly 3 percent last week, as the Swiss franc’s depreciation against the dollar followed in lock step with the euro. Switzerland decided late last summer to peg its franc to the euro—a move that was aimed at controlling the franc’s strength, which was hurting Swiss exports.

Though European officials were successful in creating a US$1 trillion emergency fund, investors have yet to believe that the worst is behind Europe. Bloomberg reported that Spanish and Italian bonds declined last week as demand weakened for sovereign debt.

As foreign investors continue to reduce their holdings and exposure to Europe, the belief is that the burden will now begin to fall on domestic investors to pick up the slack. It remains to be seen if domestic investors will create enough demand to keep yields on European sovereign debt low enough to avoid further concern.

Of course, as the euro depreciates in the wake of shifting demand for European sovereign debt, the dollar benefits from its woes.

The PowerShares DB US Dollar Index Bullish Fund (NYSEArca: UUP) finished the week up 1.32 percent. The fund’s 57.6 percent short exposure to the euro drove the bulk of returns as the dollar strengthened against the plagued currency.

Other Currency News

In other currency news, the Brazilian real lagged behind other Latin American currencies, as the dollar gained against emerging markets currencies.

US investors in Brazil saw negative returns of 2.06 percent, a 0.25 percentage point difference from local investors, who were down 1.81 percent.

The outlook on Brazil remains favourable, however, as yields on Brazilian interest rate futures contracts fell for a third day after economists cut inflation forecasts in South America’s biggest country.

Brazil, like its other emerging markets counterparts, is still heavily dependent on consumer growth within the U.S.

To that extent, Friday’s US jobs report showing that the US economy added 120,000 jobs—much lower than expected from economic forecasts—resulted in the Brazilian Bovespa Index of local equities opening lower on Monday morning.

More information and data on currency performance is available in this week’s IndexUniverse Currency Impact Report.





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Larry Swedroe

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