‘Playing with fire’: Investors use fund to bet on Russian stocks | Financial Markets News

With few choices left on U.S. exchanges to guess on Russian property, buyers have rushed right into a tiny closed-end fund monitoring jap European shares.

Buying and selling quantity on the $51 million Central and Japanese Europe Fund (ticker CEE) managed by DWS Group spiked in current weeks after main Russia-focused exchange-traded funds have been halted. Practically 1.4 million shares have been exchanged in the course of the week ending March 18 amid information of peace talks between Russia and Ukraine, the very best weekly buying and selling quantity since 2006, in line with information compiled by Bloomberg.

Piling into CEE doesn’t come with out threat, and it’s not all geopolitical. Closed-end funds — not like ETFs — problem a set variety of shares, so their buying and selling value can rapidly diverge from its underlying property as demand for the shares shifts. CEE traded at a virtually 24% premium on Thursday, the very best on document for a fund that usually trades under the worth of its underlying property, making it tough to make use of the fund as a device to intently monitor Russian shares. And many of the fund’s Russia-linked securities are depository receipts, that are nonetheless halted on exchanges and due to this fact tough to worth.

“There was nowhere to commerce, nobody may make bets on Russia, nobody may hedge their publicity, so lots of people got here right here,” stated James Seyffart, ETF analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence. However, he warned, “anybody buying and selling these items is enjoying with fireplace proper now.”

CEE's volume spikes after Russia-focused ETFs halted

Since closed-end funds aren’t required to report holdings each day, buyers don’t know what they’re holding in actual time and will not perceive how they worth their property.

Roughly 60% of CEE’s holdings have been in Russia-linked securities, as of Feb. 24, disclosures present. By March 14, they’d marked just about the complete allotment right down to zero. Whereas Alrosa PJSC, the one native Russian inventory that the fund holds, resumed buying and selling this week in Moscow, the remaining Russia-linked securities have been depositary receipts.

Securities are given a “truthful worth” if their market costs aren’t available, which for CEE is the quantity that it “may moderately anticipate to obtain for the safety upon its present sale,” DWS stated in an announcement. However any valuations assigned to CEE’s Russian securities are “topic to vary and could also be lowered to doubtlessly as little as zero,” in line with the agency. Such securities may truly be value nothing if Russia is totally shut off to overseas buyers, Seyffart stated. CEE doesn’t plan to make new investments in Russian securities, the agency stated.

In the meantime, CEE is buying and selling at a premium as demand for the fund has possible exceeded the quantity of accessible shares, Seyffart added. Traders could also be eager to play the Russian market or hedge in opposition to trades they’ve on different Russia-linked securities which might be frozen, he stated. However these strikes are dangerous, since “there’s no assure that it’s going to correlate to the value of the underlying property.”

CEE's premium to underlying assets spikes to record

Russia-focused ETFs may additionally lure buyers away from CEE, if and once they start buying and selling once more, stated Todd Rosenbluth, head of analysis at ETF Developments. This might result in decrease liquidity for the fund and make it tough for buyers to exit their positions, he added.

Earlier than Russia-focused ETFs have been halted, they suspended share creations, making them behave much like a closed-end fund. However such ETFs made purer bets on the nation and provide extra transparency than CEE, Rosenbluth stated.

“Traders’ consolation with ETFs has surpassed their consolation in utilizing closed-end funds, so I do assume the ETFs usually tend to win out.”

–With help from Emily Graffeo.

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