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ETFs could see volatility as Egypt market reopens

New York, February 12, 2011

The main US instrument that offers exposure to Egyptian stocks could see some wild moves next week. Since January 27, the ETF has gained 10.8 per cent; it is down 7.9 per cent on the year.

The Van Eck Market Vectors Egypt Index exchange traded fund has kept trading even though the Egyptian stock market has been closed since January 27 in response to protests that forced president Hosni Mubarak's resignation.

In that time the ETF has attracted tons of new interest from investors, with trading volume hitting a record 1.58 million shares Friday. Its 50-day moving average is just above 133,000.

The increased interest resulted in more than $10 million in new cash which has not yet been used to create new shares because of the closure of Egypt's market.

The lack of underlying guidance has left investors guessing, trading the ETF on the latest images to cross television screens, along with models used by participants in secondary markets.

It's not clear when Egypt's market will reopen, though it could be as early as Sunday. But the ETF will have to react to what happens in shares of Egyptian shares in the index.

The ETF closed Friday at $18.60, which is at a 15 percent premium to its net asset value of $16.13, according to Van Eck's website. And it will take time before that tracking error - the divergence between the NAV and the ETF price - is reduced or eliminated.

Clues to the ETF's outlook can be found in London, where shares of its three heaviest weights, Orascom Construction, Commercial International Bank and Orascom Telecom trade.

The ETF in the past followed Orascom Construction and Commercial International more closely -- but that has been turned on its head since the revolt in Cairo's streets, instead moving in line with the more defensive-oriented Orascom Telecom.

"The telecom would be kind of a safer stock," said Bryant Evans, portfolio manager at Cozad Asset Management in Champaign, Illinois.

"If you're worried about a decline, the construction company would go down more than the telecom," he said.

Evans also said their performance will depend on how much control the Egyptian government could have had on these companies or their business.

On January 27, two days after the first massive protest in the streets of Cairo, everything was trading in tandem.

But after 11 days with the background of a closed Egyptian market, the ETF has most closely tracked the telecom, with that short-term correlation at 0.76. If the underlying shares slip because of ongoing worries, that could also trip the ETF.-Reuters




Tags: ETFs | Egypt market | Van Eck Market Vectors Egypt Index |

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