Investors Dump Local Currency EM Bond Funds This Week: ETF Watch

(Bloomberg) -- Two exchange-traded funds tracking local currency bonds in emerging-markets absorbed massive block sales this week as global fears of trade disputes and rising U.S. Treasury yields sent developing nation debt into a tailspin.

Investors moved more than $73 million of the SPDR Bloomberg Barclays Emerging Markets Local Bond ETF, or EBND, on Thursday. That was the most since November 2012 and more than 14 times the daily average volume in the past year. A larger fund, the VanEck Vectors J.P. Morgan EM Local Currency Bond ETF, or EMLC, posted turnover of $253 million Thursday, more than five times its daily average in the past year.

It’s no surprise that investors are heading for the exits, as local currency emerging-market credit is taking a beating. In May, local sovereign bonds posted a negative 0.75 percent total return and the MSCI Emerging Markets Currency Index fell nearly 1.4 percent.

But despite investor caution, some see the rout as a chance to enter the market. For example, Didier Lambert, a portfolio manager at JPMorgan Chase & Co., is finding value in countries with low inflation that boosts real yields. He’s betting on nations like Indonesia, Brazil and South Africa. And he’s not alone in his convictions.

“The EM local market is looking more valuable as some investors have exited,” said Michael Roche, a New York-based strategist at Seaport Global Holdings. “Those remaining are more strategic in outlook and less prone to abruptly leave the sector.”

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