iShares Launches 3 Developed-Market ETFs

January 12, 2012

iShares launches three new developed-market ETFs, including one that’s broad and cheap.

iShares, the world’s largest ETF company, launched three more ETFs linked to MSCI indexes, one focused broadly on developed countries around the world and the other two small-cap funds targeting Hong Kong and Singapore.

The three funds, and their annual expense ratios, are:

  • iShares MSCI World Index ETF (NYSEArca: URTH), 0.24 percent—a price tag suggesting it is opening up a new front to battle for market share
  • iShares MSCI Hong Kong Small Cap Index Fund (NYSEArca: EWHS), 0.59 percent
  • iShares MSCI Singapore Small Cap Index Fund (NYSEArca: EWSS), 0.59 percent


The broader of the three, the iShares MSCI World Index ETF, tracks the MSCI World Index, which comprises equities from 24 developed countries, including the United States.

iShares could be looking to replicate the success it’s had with its iShares MSCI EAFE Index Fund (NYSEArca: EFA), a more-than-10-year-old ETF with $36 billion in assets that taps into developed markets outside of North America. But more than half of the new ETF, URTH, is allocated to U.S. stocks, followed by U.K. and Japanese equities.

URTH’s launch comes at a time when investors are warming up again to funds that deliver exposure to developed-market equities—with the United States atop many strategists’ lists of prospective markets.

Although growth prospects remain uncertain for much of the developed world as it battles massive debt burdens, investors poured $41 billion of new money into U.S. equity ETFs in 2011, with another $24 billion into international equities, according to data compiled by IndexUniverse.

The new fund is also, in some sense, a developed-market subset of the San Francisco-based company’s all-world equity ETF, the iShares MSCI ACWI Index Fund (NYSEArca: ACWI). That fund has gathered $2.3 billion since it came to market in 2008. ACWI costs 0.34 percent.

Serving Up Small-Cap Exposure

The other two ETFs the company is launching today, EWHS and EWSS, reflect a trend in the ETF market to leverage consumer behavior via smaller companies that often don’t have global reach.

These two new funds are essentially small-cap versions of first-generation ETFs iShares MSCI Hong Kong Index Fund (NYSEArca: EWH) and iShares MSCI Singapore Index Fund (NYSEArca: EWS). Both were launched in 1996 and have $1.8 billion and $1.3 billion in assets, respectively.

EWHS and EWSS join the company’s broader developing-country small- cap fund, the iShares Emerging Markets Small Cap ETF (NYSEArca: EEMS), which allocates just under 3 percent to Hong Kong small-cap stocks. EEMS, launched in August 2011, has gathered $32.6 million in assets.


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