Thursday’s ETF To Watch: MSCI Switzerland Index Fund (EWL)

by on March 15, 2012 | ETFs Mentioned:

Tuesday saw a welcomed bull run on Wall Street as it was announced that a number of major banks had passed their respective stress tests, meaning that they would have enough capital to endure even the most severe scenarios. Investors cheered on the news with a buying trend that show the Dow up to its post-crisis high, as our economy has been showing signs of life as of late. But while the U.S. has been enjoying relatively strong data, the same cannot be said elsewhere, as a number of economies around the world are struggling to find their footing [see also Three Reasons Why Gold Is Overvalued].

Europe is one of the most volatile regions in the world right now, as stocks in the region have been teetering back and forth based on various reports on the Greek debt crisis and what progress is being made or halted on that front. But there is one economy at the center of it all that aims to stay isolated; the Swiss. Long known as the country of neutrality, Switzerland had very few ties to its neighbors until it pegged its currency to the volatile euro last year. Now, the fate of Switzerland is much more dependent on the euro-zone as a whole [see also Top 5 Countries Most Widely Represented By ETFs]. 

Today will see the Swiss economy in the spotlight as its central bank is slated to release its interest rate decision which is expected to hold steady at near-zero rates. Because such a major portion of Switzerland’s economy comes from the financial sector, interest rates have a particularly significant impact on the surrounding economy. A jump in rates typically points to an attempt to control inflation, while a dip is usually a sign that the economy is in need of stimulation. Being that rates cannot get any lower in the region, a surprise jump could be bad news as it would suggest that the Swiss National Bank is worried about inflation in the country.

With this major bank rate decision on tap, today’s ETF to watch will be the MSCI Switzerland Index Fund (EWL). This fund, which tracks the performance of the Swiss equity market, has been around since 1996 and is home to over $550 million in total assets. Top holdings of EWL include bellwethers like Nestle, UBS, and Credit Suisse. Reflecting recent strength in the Swiss economy, this fund has jumped by more than 9% on the year while maintaining a strong dividend yield of roughly 2.3%. If today’s rates make a surprise jump, EWL could be headed for rocky roads; investors and traders alike should pay attention to the economic commentary issued after the rate decision itself [see also Country ETFs With Rock Bottom Unemployment Rates].

Disclosure: No positions at time of writing.