Individual Country ETF First Quarter Performances

The first quarter of 2009 is in the books. Thanks to the strong rally in the second half of March, the U.S. stock market ended the month on the positive note, even though it wasn’t enough the pull the market out of the red for the quarter. For the quarter, the S&P 500 Index lost 11.7% after reaching fresh 12-year low on March 9. If the quarter were end on March 9, then the loss would have more than doubled at 25.1%

Looking around the world, U.S. apparently isn’t the best place for investors (I still remember the” no safer investment than U.S.” comment made by White House Press Secretary early last month). In fact, based on returns of iShare individual country ETFs calculated by Morningstar, a few countries even showed positive numbers for the first three months of 2009, led by iShares MSCI Chile Investable Market Index(ECH)’s 15.76% gain as shown in the following table.

Name Symbol 3-month
iShares FTSE/Xinhua China 25 Index FXI -1.93 -35.38
iShares MSCI Australia Index EWA -4.43 -44.53
iShares MSCI Austria Investable Mkt Idx EWO -5.61 -61.87
iShares MSCI Belgium Investable Mkt Idx EWK -8.13 -63.68
iShares MSCI Brazil Index EWZ 7.72 -48.52
iShares MSCI Canada Index EWC -5.57 -44.46
iShares MSCI Chile Investable Mkt Idx ECH 15.76 -33.52
iShares MSCI France Index EWQ -17.82 -47.78
iShares MSCI Germany Index EWG -22.11 -50.45
iShares MSCI Hong Kong Index EWH -1.93 -40.43
iShares MSCI Israel Cap Invest Mkt Index EIS 8.72 -30.80
iShares MSCI Italy Index EWI -22.88 -54.29
iShares MSCI Japan Index EWJ -17.54 -35.32
iShares MSCI Malaysia Index EWM -4.12 -38.39
iShares MSCI Mexico Investable Mkt Idx EWW -15.34 -52.71
iShares MSCI Netherlands Investable Mkt Idx EWN -16.49 -53.67
iShares MSCI Singapore Index EWS -10.64 -48.08
iShares MSCI South Africa Index EZA -3.45 -31.02
iShares MSCI South Korea Index EWY 1.75 -48.02
iShares MSCI Spain Index EWP -20.62 -48.01
iShares MSCI Sweden Index EWD -10.22 -51.21
iShares MSCI Switzerland Index EWL -17.85 -39.96
iShares MSCI Taiwan Index EWT 6.32 -45.00
iShares MSCI Thailand Invest Mkt Index THD -6.47 -54.02
iShares MSCI Turkey Invest Mkt Index TUR -10.99 -47.18
iShares MSCI United Kingdom Index EWU -14.45 -48.86

However, beware that returns of these ETFs do not represent the actual performances of those country’s stock markets. For example, China’s Shanghai Stock Market Composite Index surged more than 30% in the first quarter, one of the best performing markets so far this year. Yet, iShares FTSE/Xinhua China 25 Index (FXI) is still down 1.93%, as well as other China ETFs, such as PGJ and FCHI.

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