This year has gotten off to a quiet start relative to the busy end that 2011 saw. But that doesn’t mean that there is a shortage of market moving events to talk about. One of the biggest stories has been the euro, which has been under enormous pressure to start off the year. Others are focused on this year’s elections and wondering how a political shift in Washington could affect trading on Wall Street. Unfortunately, yesterday brought bad news on the European front, which may end up having a big impact on this week’s trading [see also 12 High-Yielding Commodities For 2012].
Yesterday saw the unnerving announcement that Swiss National Bank (SNB) Chairman Philipp Hildebrand resigned effective immediately due to a scandal involving his wife. Hildebrand’s wife purchased roughly 400,000 Swiss francs just weeks before Hildebrand and the rest of the national bank announced the controversial peg to the euro last year. Many had been calling for Hildebrand to step down for some time now, with Hildebrand finally relinquishing his position because he could not provide tangible evidence that he was not aware of, or did not help execute his wife’s trade [see also Safe Haven No More: Swiss Franc ETF Collapses On Peg To Euro].
This comes in a long line of hits for the Swiss, as the neutral nation has struggled as of late. With the Swiss franc rapidly appreciating last summer, the SNB felt they had no choice but to intervene. This led to the peg to the euro, effectively eliminating what many considered to be the last safe haven currency given the weakness in the U.S. dollar. Now, a major scandal has shaken one of the world’s largest and most significant central banks and will surely have a heavy impact on a number of equities around the world [see also 2011 Recap: Another Big Year For ETFs].
In light of yesterday’s surprise announcement, today’s ETF to watch will be the MSCI Switzerland Index Fund (EWL). This ETF measures the performance of the Swiss equity market and has a had a trailing one year return of -6.2%. Top holdings include powerful multinational companies like Nestle, UBS, and Credit Suisse. Note that the fund is made up of almost 15% financial services, so this news could have a major impact on the ETF for not only the day, but the week as a whole. Look for EWL to be relatively active and it would not be surprising to see the product exhibit some volatility throughout the next few sessions.
Disclosure: No positions at time of writing.