Options Traders Bearish On Russian Equities, ETFs

Includes: ERUS, RBL, RSX
by: Tom Lydon

With oil prices dropping and diminished growth in China cutting demand for industrial metals, Russia exchange traded funds have experienced a quick sell-off as options traders continue to protect themselves from any more downside in Russian equities.

Market Vectors Russia ETF (NYSEARCA:RSX), iShares MSCI Russia Capped Index Fund ETF (NYSEARCA:ERUS) and SPDR S&P Russia ETF (NYSEARCA:RBL) lost around 6% over the past week. The Russia ETFs are currently testing their short- and long-term support levels. Nevertheless, the funds are still trading up over 17% year-to-date.

The ratio of puts to sell the Market Vectors RSX ETF compared to calls to buy increased to 2.07-to-1 Thursday, the highest since July 2010, according to Bloomberg. RSX fell to a four-week low as demand for copper, nickel and crude oil, Russia's largest exports, dropped to a one-week low.

"The fear of what could happen to the commodity prices if China really began to slow down, which would clearly be a downside risk to the Russian markets, is why people are buying puts," Roland Nash, chief investment strategist at Verno Capital, said in the article.

We could see a "10 to 15 percent retreat in the RTS over the next four weeks, assuming we get more news about the global slowdown," Nash added.

Market Vectors Russia ETF

Max Chen contributed to this article.

Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.