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Emerging-Market ETFs a Battleground

Stocks in this article: TUR

Emerging-market investors are out in force, and they know how to spot a deal in the ETF industry.

Year to date, assets have flowed out of dominant iShares MSCI Emerging Markets (EEM), while funds have flowed in to lower-cost Vanguard Emerging Markets (VWO). The success of these funds has propelled the launch of new offerings as the popularity of emerging markets continues to grow.

Turkey Takes Flight

ETF giant iShares has seized upon investor interest to offer emerging-market ETFs in both the U.S. and abroad. iShares recently announced the launch of the MSCI Emerging Markets Eastern Europe Index Fund (ESR) in the U.S. and its intention to launch the first ETF in Chile.

According to Bloomberg, the Chilean ETF will add to its international emerging-markets roster, which includes three funds currently trading in Brazil.

iShares' new offerings will not go unchallenged. Low-cost ETF provider Vanguard has fired a shot across the bow. In 2008, iShares' EEM had net cash outflows of $129 million while Vanguard's VWO's net cash flow was $2.8 billion. Year to date, VWO's net cash flow is nearly $4.2 billion while EEM's net cash flow is $1.8 billion.

Emerging-markets ETFs have been standout performers in 2009, with the Market Vectors' Indonesia (IDX) ETF jumping more than 33% in the three months ending Oct. 12, while iShares MSCI Turkey Investable Market Index (TUR) rose more than 45%, and Market Vectors Russia (RSX) rose nearly 73%. Year to date, TUR and RSX are up 102% and 137%, respectively.

The release of new emerging-market ETFs began to heat up in the summer as a variety of new funds hit the market. The July 22 release of the Emerging Global Shares Dow Jones Emerging Markets Titans Composite Index Fund (EEG) by newcomer Emerging Global Shares was followed by the Aug. 14 release of the Market Vectors Vietnam (VNM) ETF. More recently, Emerging Global Shares released an Emerging Markets Financials Titans Index Fund (EFN) on Sept. 16.

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