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A bad four weeks for national ETFs; still a decent year for some

On average, the 21 nations we profiled were down 6.2 per cent. Fortunately, one month of negative momentum was not enough to offset a 12-month run, for the period ending June 21, 2013, that has seen market values appreciate by 14.4 per cent for the same group of countries.

JO YONG-HAK/Jo Yong-Hak/Reuters

The last four weeks were unkind to investors around the globe with only one country managing to generate positive returns. On average, the 21 nations we profiled were down 6.2 per cent. Fortunately, one month of negative momentum was not enough to offset a 12-month run, for the period ending June 21, 2013, that has seen market values appreciate by 14.4 per cent for the same group of countries (see our chart here).

Relatively speaking, the Canadian market was slightly more resilient than most of the other countries, in-line with the biggest European nations (France, Germany, Spain, the U.K.) and the S&P 500, which collectively weathered a difficult four weeks much better than their Asian counterparts (Japan, China, India, South Korea) and the Emerging Markets (Brazil, Russia).

Over the last 12 months, the Canadian market is in the middle of the pack, up 5.7 per cent. Benefitting from strength after significant volatility, four European countries (Spain, Germany, France, Switzerland) are up more than 30 per cent over the same time frame. Also amongst the leaders, in terms of market price appreciation over the last year, is Japan. Despite a difficult period, which included multiple days of triple digit losses on the Nikkei 225, Japan has so far managed to retain the bulk of its returns sparked by the election of a new Prime Minister in December, followed by a regime change inside the Bank of Japan.

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Overall, the most recent performance data is a stark contrast to last month's regional breakdown, which was overwhelmingly positive. All 21 countries generated positive returns over a 12-month period and all but one nation saw values appreciate over a one-month time frame.

It remains to be seen if this reversal is an anomaly – in which case investors might consider sagging prices as a buying opportunity – or the beginning of a prolonged downturn. If it's the latter, investors might consider shielding their equity investments from further weakness.

Return data was complied using an average of the largest U.S. traded – broad equity market – country specific ETFs with $100-million in net assets as the minimum for inclusion (with the exception of EIS – which has $76-million).

ETFinsight is a website dedicated to helping Canadians connect with relevant ETF solutions. Read more at www.etfinsight.ca, follow us on Twitter @etfinsight and Josh Erhlich can be contacted at: josh@etfinsight.ca

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