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Profit Taking In Japan-Focused ETFs Could Signal A Pullback Coming

We have seen some profit taking into strength in the largest Japan Equity based ETF, EWJ (iShares MSCI Japan, Expense Ratio 0.48%, $15.9 billion in AUM), before today’s sell-off in global equities (EWJ down approximately 0.70%) with about $600 million leaving the fund via redemption flows.

The fund has seen redemptions of only about $200 million year-to-date, so the recent round of selling has taken the fund into the negative in terms of net YTD flows.

While the fund has had a nice 2017 in terms of performance, it does appear that some are trimming positions here, which makes us look at ETFs outside of EWJ that may see accelerated activity if any sell-off here is sustained. EWV (ProShares UltraShort MSCI Japan, Expense Ratio 0.95%) comes to mind, as it only has $10.9 million in AUM, but it is the only “Bear Levered” Japanese Equity fund in the marketplace at the moment. Note that the EWV tracks the same MSCI Japan Index that EWJ is linked to, only on a two times daily levered inverse basis.

Top holdings in the MSCI Japan Index are as follows: 1) Toyota Motor Corp (5.13%), 2) Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc (2.70%), 3) SoftBank Group Corp (2.43%), 4) Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group Inc. (1.76%), and 5) KDDI Corp (1.62%). With three hundred twenty-three individually listed equities in the fund, it has quite a bit of diversification when we look at it, given that the top holding (Toyota) is only about 5% of the overall index, with a sharp drop-off after this name.

EWJ is the giant in the space at the moment in terms of AUM size, even with the most recent outflows, followed by the $8.8 billion DXJ (WisdomTree Japan Hedged Equity, Expense Ratio 0.48%) and the competing DBJP (Deutsched MSCI Japan Hedge Equity, Expense Ratio 0.45%, $2.1 billion in AUM) and HEWJ (iShares Currency Hedged MSCI Japan, Expense Ratio 0.48%, $1 billion in AUM).

“Small-Cap Japan” may also be active in the near term, and we are specifically watching DFJ (WisdomTree Japan SmallCap Dividend, Expense Ratio 0.58%, $495 million in AUM), SCJ (iShares MSCI Japan Small-Cap, Expense Ratio 0.48%, $120 million in AUM), and DXJS (WisdomTree Japan Hedged SmallCap Equity, Expense Ratio 0.58%, $115 million in AUM).

The iShares MSCI Japan ETF (NYSE:EWJ) was trading at $51.54 per share on Tuesday afternoon, down $0.30 (-0.58%). Year-to-date, EWJ has gained 5.49%, versus a 5.15% rise in the benchmark S&P 500 index during the same period.

EWJ currently has an ETF Daily News SMART Grade of A (Strong Buy), and is ranked #1 of 80 ETFs in the Asia Pacific Equities Ex-China ETFs category.

Disclaimer: The content of this article is excerpted from a daily newsletter from Street One Financial. While ETF Daily News may edit the contents and add a relevant title to the piece, the author, Paul Weisbruch, does not endorse or recommend any issuer or security mentioned herein.

About the Author: Paul Weisbruch

paul-weisbruchPaul Weisbruch is the VP of ETF/Options Sales and Trading at Street One Financial. Prior to joining the team at Street One, Paul served as the Director of RIA and Institutional ETF Sales at RevenueShares ETFs from December 2007 until November of 2009. Before RevenueShares, Paul was employed by Susquehanna International Group from 2000 until 2007 serving in roles including OTC/NYSE Institutional Block Trading, Nasdaq/OTC Market Making, ETF/Derivatives Intelligence and Strategy, Algorithmic Trading, as well as acting as the PHLX Floor Specialist in the ETFs, SPY and DIA.Paul has been actively involved in the ETF space from both a product and trading standpoint since 2000. Additionally, Paul has well forged relationships with national RIAs, institutional pension fund managers and consultants, mutual fund and hedge fund managers, and also the ETF media. Co-authoring the “S1F ETF Daily” since 2009, the daily piece has become a must for many portfolio managers in the ETF space, with segments regularly appearing in the likes of Barron’s, WSJ, and for instance.

He holds his Series 4 (Registered Options Principal), 6, 7, 55 (Equity Trader), 63, and 65 licenses. He graduated from the University of Pittsburgh (B.S. – Economics), graduating magna cum laude, and has an MBA from Villanova University.

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