Back To Top

Russia volatility soars as oil below $30 dims investor outlook

The largest exchange-traded fund tracking Russian equities has made the worst start to a year on record with over 50 percent of the stocks the ETF holds losing more than 10 percent so far in 2016.

The Market Vectors Russia ETF advanced 1.9 percent to $12.42 on Thursday, narrowing its loss this year to 15 percent. The ETF’s price swings, with daily losses reaching as much as 7 percent, have pushed its historical volatility to levels unseen since the global equity rout in late August.

“Selloffs are generally more painful in the beginning of the year and this one is happening against a much weaker ruble and weaker oil,” Aleksei Belkin, chief investment officer at Kaplan Asset Management LLC, said by e-mail from Moscow on Thursday. “The selloff in Russia can get even worse, as there isn’t much natural support for equities.”

The ETF’s 10-historical volatility reached 48.49 on Thursday. The fund, about 40 percent invested in energy shares, gained as Brent crude, the grade investors use to price the nation’s main export blend, advanced 4.9 percent. Brent fell 3.1 percent to $27.88 on Wednesday, the lowest since November 2003. The ruble, the worst performer among emerging-market currencies, slid 1.5 percent to 82.63 against the dollar, a new record low close. The dollar-denominated RTS Index rose 0.6 percent to 632.12, narrowing its losses this year to 17 percent.

Oil, the nation’s largest export that plays a direct influence on the nation’s market, has retreated 21 percent this year. (Bloomberg)