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Questionable Timing for First Russian ETF

With the astronomical gains in Russian-based equities since 2001, it's no surprise investors have been clamoring for an exchange-traded fund that can capture these profits.

Now they can.

Asset manager Van Eck Global launched its Market Vectors-Russia ETF (RSX) on the New York Stock Exchange this week. It's the first U.S.-listed ETF that gives investors exposure to a broad spectrum of Russian companies. This is Van Eck's fourth ETF but its first to track international equities and its first on the NYSE. The fund charges an expense ratio of 0.69%.

ETF investors seeking exposure to Russia have been limited to the Claymore BRIC (EEB). However, rather than being focused on Russia, this fund also tracks companies from Brazil, India and China.

The new ETF seeks to replicate, before fees and expenses, the performance of the DAXglobal Russia+ Index, a basket created by the Deutsche Bourse of the 30 most heavily traded Russian companies. Five of the stocks list in the U.S. as American depositary receipts (ADRs), 19 trade in London as global depositary Receipts (GDRs) and six trade on Russia's Micex Exchange.

But is now the best time to be launching a Russian ETF? Tom Lydon, editor of ETF Trends, an independent Web site based in Newport Beach, Calif., that tracks the ETF industry, doesn't think so.

"I think it's great that it came out," says Lydon. "But right now, Russia isn't performing as well as some other European markets."

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