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China ETF 'PEK' in Focus

NEW YORK ( ETF Digest ) -- PEK (Market Vectors China ETF) (PEK) follows the CSI 300 index, which consists of 300 A-share stocks listed on Shanghai or Shenzen stock exchange. The ETF is rather new being launched less than one year ago in October 2010. The fund expense ratio is .72%. The holdings for the fund consist of swaps which from time to time may include cash positions when counterparties are unavailable. This plus risks associated with possibilities that counterparties might fail to meet their obligations are considerations for investors in addition to the volatility and performance of the CSI 300 Index itself.

We've been following the CSI 300 for quite some time in advance of this ETF being issued and are glad to see it available. It best features the investment climate within China itself beyond most China-related ETFs popular and widely followed.

A more critical issue is the 13.87% premium PEK is currently trading at over the index. This large premium has been at around this level (low of near 9% to a high of near 20%) since issuance. For ETF investors, this may be off-putting since wide swings lead to tracking inefficiencies.

The Missing Link

The primary reason for the premium is Van Eck does not have a QFII (Qualified Foreign Institutional Investor) license permitting it to deal in buying A-shares. Until it receives this license, it must go through an intermediary with that license (in this case Credit Suisse Securities (Europe) to gain exposure to the index.

It's an intriguing and important issue. Van Eck was smart to cover this index before competitors. It may be most investors will be content to wait for QFII license to be issued. In the meantime, investors should have their eyes on this issue. Over the long term, an issue like PEK may be the most direct way to invest in growing Chinese markets.

This commentary comes from an independent investor or market observer as part of TheStreet guest contributor program. The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of TheStreet or its management.

Dave Fry is founder and publisher of ETF Digest, Dave's Daily blog and the best-selling book author of Create Your Own ETF Hedge Fund, A DIY Strategy for Private Wealth Management, published by Wiley Finance in 2008. A detailed bio is here: Dave Fry.

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