It's been a wild week in Europe, and it's only Tuesday.
Markets in Europe suffered as chaos continued to abound in Italy, Spain and the U.K., sending the FTSE 100 lower more than 1% on Tuesday, May 29. Famed billionaire Hungarian-American investor George Soros said in a speech to the European Council on Foreign Relations Tuesday, "The European Union is in an existential crisis. Everything that could go wrong has gone wrong."
Here's what could be next on the chopping block.
Italy's Election Takes a Turn
The elections in Italy continue to be a source of unrest in the European Union, with many political pundits this week characterizing the elections as a referendum on Italy's EU membership. Italy has effectively been without a government since March, and the country appointed former International Monetary Fund official Carlo Cottarelli as interim prime minister this week. Snap elections are expected imminently, sending European markets lower on Tuesday.
Italy is the eurozone's third-largest economy, meaning a significant downturn in the country's markets could have a ripple effect throughout the European Union. Here are some of the exchange-traded funds that could suffer most in the event of Italian bedlam.
The iShares MSCI Italy ETF (EWI) is the only exchang- traded fund that focuses exclusively on Italian equities. It tracks the MSCI Italy 25/50 Index, which is made up of names traded on the Milan Stock Exchange. The index also uses a capping component that ensures no single firm accounts for more than 25% of the total underlying index weight. The fund has $589.07 million in assets under management.
The Franklin FTSE Italy ETF (FLIY) fund tracks the FTSE Italy Capped Index and has about $2.58 million in assets under management, according to FactSet. It excludes small-cap names from the fund but is largely considered cheaply valued for a single-country fund. Financial stocks make up about 35.7% of the fund, followed by energy at 15.3% and consumer cyclicals at 15.3%.
Italian stocks make up 13.17% of the First Trust Eurozone AlphaDEX ETF (FEUZ) , according to FactSet data. That makes it the third-most exposed country in the fund, behind only Germany and France. It aims to outperform the Nasdaq AlphaDEX Eurozone Index. The fund has $80.15 million in assets under management and is considered by FactSet analysts as one of the more expensive options in this fund segment.
The Brexit Is Coming, the Brexit Is Coming
As Italy faces the possible prospect of weighing an EU exit, the United Kingdom continues to deal with the ramifications of its decision to do so nearly two years ago.
Brexit continues to plague European markets, most recently in the form of the Bank of England's decision this month to delay interest rate hikes. That sent the sterling to its lowest values so far this year, offering Brits another dose of market caution. If the British economy takes a turn for the worse as Brexit comes to fruition, the iShares MSCI United Kingdom ETF (EWU) could bear the brunt. The fund is 100% constituted by British companies, with about 23% of the group from the financial sector.
Political uncertainty in Spain has weighed on stocks, as the IBEX-35 index dipped more than 2% Tuesday. Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has struggled to stay in power, and the country's Parliament has decided to conduct a no-confidence vote for Rajoy on May 31 and June 1. If the leader is voted out, his center-right government could be replaced by Socialist politicians. Sudden political uncertainty yanked the rug out from under Madrid-listed stocks this week, which could mean further trouble down the road for the likes of the iShares MSCI Spain Capped ETF (EWP) .