Recession Doldrums Send Brazil's ETF to Worst Start to Year Ever

  • The iShares MSCI Brazil Capped ETF extends 2016 tumble to 15%
  • ADRs of Petrobras, Vale slump during holiday in Sao Paulo

Here’s more bad news on Brazil: Its biggest exchange-traded fund is set for the worst start to a year on record as the malaise in Latin America’s largest economy deepens.

The iShares MSCI Brazil Capped ETF dropped 2.5 percent to $17.63 at the close of trading in New York, extending this year’s tumble to 15 percent. That’s the biggest slide for the first few weeks of any year since the fund’s creation in 2000, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The $1.6 billion fund has posted outflows of $37 million so far in January, leaving it set for the biggest month of withdrawals since October, the data showed.

Traders have pushed down the value of Brazilian assets as President Dilma Rousseff struggles to shore up the nation’s budget amid prospects for the deepest recession in a century and a widening corruption scandal. The government’s deteriorating finances helped trigger two rating downgrades to junk last year, while business and consumer confidence levels are at their lowest levels on record.

“The outlook is extremely poor and a lot of this has been reflected in the Brazil ETF,” said Tim Ghriskey, who helps oversee $1.5 billion as managing director and chief investment officer at Solaris Asset Management in New York. “The lack of confidence does not bode well for the year.”

While Brazil’s stock market is closed Monday for a holiday in Sao Paulo, some of the nation’s largest companies slipped in U.S. trading. American depositary receipts of Vale SA, the world’s biggest iron-ore miner, fell 5.3 percent to extend this year’s slide to 35 percent. State-controlled oil producer Petroleo Brasileiro SA dropped 3.6 percent amid a selloff in oil.

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