If there is one of several regions which can erupt rapidly, it is around the Korean Peninsula. The death of Kim Jong-il (that photo is a tribute photo for him) after a heart attack has caused more market uncertainty for the South Korean market and the fear is that the North Korean leadership could face a power struggle. The news is taking a toll on the ETFs, Funds, and ADRs which trade based in America as well.
iShares MSCI South Korea Index (NYSE: EWY) tracks the performance of publicly traded securities in the South Korean markets inside the MSCI South Korea Index and its shares are down 3.75% at $49.80 against a 52-week range of $40.65 to $69.99.
There are also two more fund vehicles via and ETF called The Korea Fund Inc. (NYSE: KF), down 2.4% at $39.54, and the closed-end fund called the Korea Equity Fund Inc. (NYSE: KEF) which is down 2,2% at $8.78. Both generally have very light trading volume. A much smaller and often illiquid play is the IQ South Korea Small Cap ETF (NYSE: SKOR) and its shares are down 5% at $25.59 against a 52-week range of $22.90 to $35.68.
There are three active and large ADRs from South Korea that we track which have NYSE share listings: POSCO (NYSE: PKX), the Korean steel giant, is down 2.9% at $81.47 and the 52-week range is $70.47 to $118.00; Korea Electric Power Corp. (NYSE: KEP) is down 2.3% at $11.28 and its 52-week range is $8.22 to $15.25; and finally SK Telecom Co. Ltd. (NYSE: SKM) is down 2.25% at $13.82 against a 52-week range of $13.35 to $20.29.
Trying to make any bold prediction about what leadership will rise and what policies will come ahead would be like asking a gunslinger to lead a charity fundraiser for children. Of the defense sector, Alliant Techsystems Inc. (NYSE: ATK) is a top ammunition maker and its shares are up 1% at $55.99 and rocket-maker and missile-maker Raytheon Co. (NYSE: RTN) is up 1.2% at $46.07. Any coincidence?
JON C. OGG