One of the most anticipated and watched sporting events in the world, the 2012 UEFA European Football Championship kicked off late last week. Euro 2012 marks a milestone for first-time host countries Ukraine and Poland, and many are hoping that the soccer tournament brings prosperity and inspires hope in the debt-burdened continent.
There are competing theories as to whether or not major sporting events bring longer-term wealth to the region. One thing is for certain, however; the infrastructure build-out and jump in tourism plays a key role in local job creation and, more importantly, sets the stage for continued investments in the region.
To get in the spirit as the competition heats up in the first round of the tournament, we run through the 16 competitors, highlighting the ETF options available for each country.
Russia: Investors have several options when it comes to accessing Russia; the Market Vectors Russia ETF (NYSEARCA:RSX) is the biggest and the SPDR S&P Russia ETF (NYSEARCA:RBL) is the cheapest, while Market Vectors Russia Small-Cap ETF (NYSEARCA:RSXJ) offers exposure to the country’s small cap equity market.
Czech Republic: There’s no pure play option for tapping into this nation; however, the SPDR S&P Emerging Markets Dividend ETF (NYSEARCA:EDIV) does allocate 8% of its total assets to the Czech Republic.
Germany: The iShares MSCI Germany Index Fund (NYSEARCA:EWG) boasts over $2.4 billion in assets and offers wide exposure to the German equity market, while the Market Vectors Germany Small-Cap ETF (NYSEARCA:GERJ) provides access to the country’s small cap equity market.
Denmark: This country’s equity market is easily accessible to investors through the MSCI Denmark Capped Investable Market Index Fund (BATS:EDEN).
Netherlands: The iShares MSCI Netherlands Index Fund (NYSEARCA:EWN) offers pure play exposure to equities within the Netherlands.
Portugal: Though no pure play options exist, surprisingly the Market Vectors Poland ETF (PLND) has 4.6% of its holdings within Portuguese equities. Portugal also receives minimal representation in broad-based Europe ETFs like S&P Europe 350 Index Fund (NYSEARCA:IEV) and European ETF (NYSEARCA:VGK).
Croatia: Croatia isn’t well represented in U.S-listed ETFs, but those seeking regional exposure can turn to broad-based Europe ETFs as an option.
Spain: The MSCI Spain Index Fund (NYSEARCA:EWP) issued by iShares offers exposure to the Spanish equity market.
Italy: This country’s equity market is accessible through the iShares MSCI Italy Index Fund (NYSEARCA:EWI).
Ireland: The only pure play option for investors seeking exposure to Ireland is the MSCI Ireland Capped Investable Market Index Fund (NYSEARCA:EIRL).
Ukraine: Though no pure play option exists for this co-host country, the MSCI Emerging Markets Eastern Europe Index Fund (NYSEARCA:ESR) and MSCI Poland Investable Market Index Fund (EPOL) offer minimal exposure to Ukraine.
England: For exposure to the United Kingdom, the most popular option is the iShares MSCI United Kingdom ETF (NYSEARCA:EWU). There are also multiple ETFs offering exposure to the USD/GBP exchange rate, including the CurrencyShares British Pound Trust (NYSEARCA:FXB).
France: The iShares MSCI France Index Fund (NYSEARCA:EWQ) offers pure play exposure to French equities.
Sweden: The iShares MSCI Sweden Index Fund (NYSEARCA:EWD) offers access to Sweden’s equity market.
Disclosure: No positions at time of writing.
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