Japan ETFs In Focus As Economic Data Continues To Improve

Japan ETFs In Focus As Economic Data Continues To Improve

Japan’s improved at an impressive pace in the three-month period ended September and grew for the seventh straight quarter owing to strong exports. The initial reading was revised upward, as export recovery contributed to growth.

Japan’s economy grew an annualized 2.5% in the third quarter compared with 2.9% in the prior quarter. The third quarter growth data was revised from the initial reading of 1.4%. Moreover, it increased 0.6% sequentially in the third quarter compared with an initial reading of 0.3%.

Economic Data

The International Monetary Fund upgraded its forecast for Japan’s growth rate to 1.5% in 2017 compared with its July forecast of 1.3%, as exports gained momentum. Net exports added 0.5% to GDP, unchanged from the preliminary reading.

Inventories added 0.4% to growth compared with the earlier estimate of 0.2%. Moreover, real wages grew 0.2% in October, reducing worries of a tight labor market weighing on pay.

Sequentially, consumer spending declined 0.5% in the quarter. However, this is expected to be temporary as the economy is near full employment which will in turn bolster domestic consumption in the future. Moreover, capital expenditure increased 1.1% sequentially in the quarter compared with forecast of 0.4% and preliminary reading of 0.2%.

Wall Street Impact

GDP increased 3.3% annually in the July-September period compared with a 3.1% in the second quarter. This was above the initial estimate of 3% increase. Moreover, markets anticipate an in the December meeting of the Fed. Per the CME Fed Watch tool, there is a 90.2% chance of a 25 basis point rate hike and 9.8% chance of a 50 basis point rate hike in December.

If the Fed hikes rates, it will lead to an appreciation of the greenback and a decline in the yen. A weaker yen is a positive for Japanese exporters.

Risks Involved

Japan is also subject to geopolitical risks as Asian markets suffer from massive volatility due to North Korea’s actions. Last month, North Korea launched a Hwasong-15 missile with improved technology that flew over Japan, per Korean Central News Agency (KCNA). Per United States Secretary of Defense James Mattis, this missile flew higher than all earlier missiles fired.

North Korea seems to be anything but willing to scrap its nuclear program, as it broke its two-month-long period of silence by testing a missile that reached an altitude of more than 4,000 kilometers and travelled 1,000 kilometers before dropping into the Sea of Japan.

Increased geopolitical uncertainty makes us look for currency-hedged ETFs focused on providing exposure to Japan

WisdomTree Japan Hedged Equity (NYSE:)

This fund is suited for investors looking for a broad-based exposure to the Japanese economy. It seeks to invest in dividend-paying companies with an export tilt.

The fund has AUM of $9.2 billion and charges a fee of 48 basis points a year. From a sector look, Consumer Discretionary, Industrials and Information Technology are the top three allocations of the fund, with 24.8%, 22.3% and 13.7% exposure, respectively (as of Dec 7, 2017). Toyota Motor Corporation ADR (NYSE:), Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc ADR (NYSE:) and Japan Tobacco Inc (T:) are the top three holdings of the fund, with 5.3%, 3.7% and 3.3% exposure, respectively (as of Dec 7, 2017). It has returned 17.3% year to date and 19.2% in a year (as of Dec 7, 2017). DXJ has a Zacks ETF Rank #1 (Strong Buy) with a Medium risk outlook.

Deutsche X-trackers MSCI Japan Hedged Equity ETF (DBJPFree Report)

This fund seeks to provide exposure to Japanese equities with a large-cap focus, while hedging away the currency risk.

The fund has AUM of $1.9 billion and charges a fee of 45 basis points a year. From a sector look, Industrials, Consumer Discretionary and Technology are the top three allocations of the fund, with 20.4%, 19.3% and 12.9% exposure, respectively (as of Dec 6, 2017). Toyota Motor Corp, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group and Softbank Group Corp are the top three holdings of the fund, with 4.4%, 2.5% and 2.3% exposure, respectively (as of Dec 6, 2017). It has returned 16.9% year to date and 19.7% in a year (as of Dec 7, 2017). DBJP has a Zacks ETF Rank #1 with a Medium risk outlook.

iShares Currency Hedged MSCI Japan (NYSE:) ETF

This fund is the currency-hedged equivalent of EWJ. It seeks to provide exposure to Japanese equities with a large-cap focus, while hedging away the fluctuations between the USD and JPY.

The fund has AUM of $1.1 billion and charges a fee of 49 basis points a year. From a sector look, Industrials, Consumer Discretionary and Information Technology are the top three allocations of the fund, with 20.9%, 19.9% and 12.7% exposure, respectively (as of Dec 6, 2017). Toyota Motor Corp, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group and Softbank Group Corp are the top three holdings of EWJ, with 4.5%, 2.4% and 1.9% exposure, respectively (as of Dec 6, 2017). It has returned 18.9% year to date and 20.8% in a year (as of Dec 7, 2017). HEWJ has a Zacks ETF Rank #1 with a Medium risk outlook.

The WisdomTree Japan Hedged Equity Fund closed at $58.57 on Friday, up $0.45 (+0.77%). Year-to-date, DXJ has gained 20.14%, versus a 19.88% rise in the benchmark during the same period.

DXJ currently has an ETF Daily News SMART Grade of A (Strong Buy), and is ranked #2 of 79 ETFs in the Asia Pacific Equities Ex-China ETFs category.

(Why?)

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