Three ETFs To Watch This Week: EWJ, EWA, OIH

by on September 7, 2010 | ETFs Mentioned:

Only a few days into the ninth month of the year, September is shaping up to be a far better month than August, when many benchmarks were pummeled by negative outlooks and a wave of bearish sentiment on Wall Street. After a better-than-expected jobs report sent markets surging to close trading last week, investors will be hoping for more good news in coming days to keep the September rally going. The holiday-shortened week is generally one of the least active of the entire year, but the next four days will see no shortage of critical data releases in the U.S. and elsewhere that could give equity markets direction as the fourth quarter nears.

Below, we profile three ETFs that could be active this week [for more ETF ideas, sign up for our free ETF newsletter]:

iShares MSCI Japan Index Fund (EWJ)

Why EWJ Will Be In Focus: This week should bring the latest chapter in Japan’s ongoing battle against its persistently strong currency, a development that has weighed on the profitability and outlook of export-dependent Japanese firms. When the Bank of Japan meets on Tuesday it is expected to leave interest rates unchanged at 0.10%, although government officials have made it clear that they are willing to take actions necessary to stimulate the sagging economy.

This week will also see the release of the final reading for second quarter GDP; the preliminary report indicated annualized expansion of just 0.4%. But that number could be revised upwards this week; a Bloomberg survey of economists indicated a median prediction of actual GDP growth of 1.5% for that period.

iShares MSCI Australia Index Fund (EWA)

Why EWA Will Be In Focus: Australia also has an interest rate decision to make this week, although the drivers of policy changes in Sydney differ quite a bit from those in Tokyo. Analysts expect Australia to leave its benchmark interest rate unchanged for a fourth consecutive month in an effort to support the economy as the U.S., Japan, and Europe all show weakness.

A recent report from the TD Securities Melbourne Institute shows that inflation is headed towards the high end of the Reserve Bank of Australia’s “comfort zone,” meaning that the RBA still has some flexibility in its policy decisions. “The inflation gauge is telling us that the mid-year return to trend GDP (gross domestic product) growth, the income surge arising from the terms of trade boom and ongoing tight labour market are yet to translate into worrisome price pressures,” TD Securities senior strategist Annette Beacher said in a statement.

Oil Services HOLDRS (OIH)

Why OIH Will Be In Focus: The fallout from the latest disaster off the Gulf Coast could continue to rain down this week, as investigations into an explosion at an offshore production platform owned by Mariner Energy continue this week. “Just when America’s ban on offshore exploration seemed like it might end, another disaster in the Gulf of Mexico put Big Oil back on the defensive,” writes Chris Kahn.

OIH could also face pressure from developments in Milwaukee on Monday, where president Obama announced a $50 billion public works campaign. One option for financing the initiative would reportedly involve cutting existing subsidies for oil and gas exploration[see Three ETFs For Obama's Public Works Plan].

Disclosure: No positions at time of writing.