China tech crackdown claims ETF victims

Thematic funds with narrow focus on affected sectors feel the burn


Beijing’s regulatory crackdown on some of its biggest companies in technology and education has delivered a bruising blow to highly specialised China-focused exchange traded funds.


Broad-based tech ETFs have sailed through virtually unscathed, but some narrowly focused thematic instruments have taken a beating. Among those most affected, the KraneShares CSI China Internet ETF (KWEB) has nearly halved in value since its peak in February.


Some ETF buyers are hunting specifically for targeted strategies, despite the risks. But Kenneth Lamont, senior fund analyst at Morningstar, said this highlights the potential drawbacks of tracking a narrow theme without the flexibility to shift tactics.


“The [passive thematic] strategy has no way to quickly react to bad news and will hold the stock until the next rebalance. The small number of fund holdings also means that overall returns can be influenced by the performance of handful of stocks,” Lamont said.


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