Photographer: Kiyoshi Ota/Bloomberg

One Bearish Bet Spurs the Biggest Japan ETF Outflow Since the Crisis

A single institutional investor likely triggered the largest outflow from the iShares MSCI Japan exchange-traded fund, ticker EWJ, since the depths of the financial crisis. The benchmark $16.5 billion ETF, which has notched a 9.2 percent return so far this year, was hit by a $759 million withdrawal Thursday, the biggest one-day outflow among U.S.-listed ETFs, and the most since September 2009. “The volume data show this was likely one big investor, who is unnerved by Japan’s recent shakiness and wants out before it gets worse,” said Eric Balchunas, ETF analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence, referring to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s election defeat Sunday that calls into question the economic reform agenda.

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