Worst Performing ETFs Of 2018

October 08, 2018

Earlier this week, ETF.com published an article on the top-performing ETFs of the year. That list featured a mix of tech, health care and oil ETFs. Aside from the oil funds, most of those ETFs were focused on stocks of U.S. companies.

Not so for the worst-performing ETFs. U.S. equity ETFs are nearly nonexistent on our bottom-dwellers list. Instead, international equity ETFs fill the ranks of this ill-fated group.

Just like before, we’ve put together two lists—one that excludes leveraged/inverse products and one that includes them. We’ll start with the former.

EM Struggles

After two years of strong gains, emerging markets hit a snag in 2018. In fact, 14 of the 20 worst-performing ETFs of the year target the stocks of emerging market countries.

Losses for these funds ranged from 22% to almost 44%, with the iShares MSCI Turkey ETF (TUR) taking the notorious No. 1 spot.


Worst-Performing ETFs Of The Year (excluding leveraged/inverse)

Ticker Fund YTD Return (%)
TUR iShares MSCI Turkey ETF -43.75
SCIF  VanEck Vectors India Small-Cap Index ETF -42.27
SCIN  Columbia India Small Cap ETF -39.99
REMX VanEck Vectors Rare Earth/Strategic Metals ETF -32.60
SMIN  iShares MSCI India Small Cap ETF -30.31
CNXT  VanEck Vectors ChinaAMC SME-ChiNext ETF -28.35
ASHS  Xtrackers Harvest CSI 500 China-A Shares Small Cap ETF -27.90
INXX  Columbia India Infrastructure ETF -26.44
SGDJ  Sprott Junior Gold Miners ETF -26.22
LD  iPath Bloomberg Lead Subindex Total Return ETN -26.11
SIL  Global X Silver Miners ETF -25.77
BRF  VanEck Vectors Brazil Small-Cap ETF -25.33
EZA  iShares MSCI South Africa ETF -23.88
EPHE  iShares MSCI Philippines ETF -23.73
KGRN  KraneShares MSCI China Environment ETF -23.34
AGT  iShares MSCI Argentina and Global Exposure ETF -22.94
CQQQ  Invesco China Technology ETF -22.83
SLVP  iShares MSCI Global Silver Miners ETF -22.76
SILJ  ETFMG Prime Junior Silver ETF -22.47
ARGT  Global X MSCI Argentina ETF -22.26

Note: Data measures total returns for the year-to-date period through October 2, 2018.

The crisis engulfing Turkey has been much discussed in the financial media. A tumbling currency, massive deficits, soaring inflation and sky-high interest rates have all combined to weigh on the $460 million TUR, the only pure-play Turkey exchange-traded fund on the market.

It’s a similar situation for Argentina. The country is headed by a business-friendly president, who orchestrated a $50 billion International Monetary Fund bailout earlier this year. But weak economic fundamentals—twin deficits, rising rates and inflation, and a sagging currency—ruled the day as the iShares MSCI Argentina and Global Exposure ETF (AGT) and the Global X MSCI Argentina ETF (ARGT), both fell by more than 22%.

The economic situation is slightly different for each emerging market—China is embroiled in an escalating trade war with the U.S.; India is grappling with bad bank loans and high valuations in its stock market; and Brazil is about to hold a crucial general election later this month in which the outcome is highly uncertain—but nearly all have been shunned by investors this year.

Not-So-Golden Miners

Other than emerging markets, the group to get hit the hardest this year is precious metals miners. Funds from the Sprott Junior Gold Miners ETF (SGDJ) to the Global X Silver Miners ETF (SIL) have lost nearly a quarter of their value so far in 2018 as gold and silver prices sagged amid tepid demand and rising supply.

Gold and silver fell to 1 1/2-year lows near $1,200/oz and $14/oz, respectively, in September, before recovering slightly.

Another commodity to do poorly this year? Lead. The iPath Bloomberg Lead Subindex Total Return ETN (LD) lost 26.1%.

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