By Tim Seymour
Russia (RSX) is back to November lows on the Micex, and if you ask brokers, it's more like slow death than anything.
Yes, price action has been poor, but more importantly trading volume has dried up. The breadth of the market has become quite narrow. Outside of Magnit, Sberbank, MTS, EDCL, Lukoil, and occasional trading (mostly down) in Gazprom (OGZPY.PK), this is a market that most non-dedicated funds (basically emerging markets, but not those that are Russia country funds) have only partial focus.
Russian fund outflows through the week of April 10 were -$393 million, according to EPFR. This is the worst showing since September 2011, which you may remember was a bloodbath in emerging markets.
Russian macro is also under pressure with GDP downgrades coming from the government, as IP slows and the absolute levels in spot commodities are lower year over year. Having traded this market for 15 years, I can tell you that apathy is not something people have attached to Russia: You either love it or hate it, but you have an opinion.
It's not that Russia is suddenly unloved; it's just not on the radar screen like it used to be. Russia actually has been the best performing BRIC (granted, that's not saying much), and arguably has a more compelling consumer consumption story that rival Brazil (EWZ) right now on a per capita GDP basis.