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New Currency Funds Break New Ground

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- A few years ago currency ETFs became very popular when Rydex issued a comprehensive suite of individual currency funds. Since then there have been a few other funds to come out but the segment has had less attention paid to it in recent years. That may be changing with a couple of new funds that came out earlier this week.

The more interesting of the two stands to be the actively managed PIMCO Foreign Currency Strategy Exchange Traded Fund (FORX). The primary objective is to offer access to a product that will benefit from a decline in the U.S. dollar. Obviously, if the U.S. dollar generally goes higher then the fund will not do well.

Currently the fund has a bias toward developed, commodity-based currencies with 18% allocations to both the Norwegian krone and the Canadian dollar. It is worth noting that the fund can't put more than 20% in any one currency. It also has heavy exposure to the Russian ruble, Mexican peso and Swedish krona. Currently there is no euro exposure and no exposure to the Japanese yen.

The actual constituents of the fund will be a combination of currency, currency forward contracts and short-term debt. There is the potential for the fund to have a dividend payout but the short-term interest rates for many of the countries in the fund are very low and any payout would need to overcome the 0.65% expense ratio.

As the fund becomes more popular it may be more difficult for the managers to implement their strategy. For example, the fund currently has a 4% weight in the New Zealand dollar. The current size of the fund is $17 million so buying $68,000 worth of NZD is pretty easy to do. If the fund grows to $1 billion and the managers wanted 18% in NZD that would obviously be $180 million which might be difficult because the money supply in New Zealand as measured by M3 is only $4.25 billion so FORX would need to be able to buy an amount equal to more than 4% of New Zealand's M3.

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