(Bloomberg) — One investor just placed a huge bet on emerging markets at a time when some of the largest banks are signaling threats to this year’s rally.
A trade of about $211 million, or 5 million shares, of the Vanguard FTSE Emerging Markets ETF was recorded at 11:45 a.m. in New York on Tuesday, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. That’s the largest trade for the exchange-traded fund in 2019, and another $51 million of shares crossed the tape just hours later. The ETF climbed for a third day.
The purchase comes amid bank warnings that a China growth slowdown, a stronger dollar and uncertain trade talks could upend the best start to a year for emerging-market equities since 2012. One of JPMorgan (NYSE:JPM) Asset Management’s biggest mutual funds reduced its stock exposure last month, while Goldman Sachs Group Inc (NYSE:GS). advised clients to be selective. UBS Wealth Management said it took profits on some of its developing-world wagers in late January.
“I guess someone is buying the dip,” said Whitney Baker, the founder of New York-based Totem Macro, which advises funds holding more than $3 trillion in assets. “Our conviction in the broad theme of EM outperformance at the end of the developed-market cycle hasn’t changed.”
Other investors seem convinced. BlackRock Inc (NYSE:BLK).’s iShares MSCI Emerging Markets ETF (NYSE:EEM) also saw two large trades on Tuesday worth about $150 million in total, data compiled by Bloomberg show.
Money could be coming into emerging markets and other global assets from short-dated U.S. bond funds, according to Mohit Bajaj, director of ETFs at WallachBeth Capital. More than $344 million worth of shares in a Vanguard Short-Term Treasury ETF traded at 10:27 a.m. in New York, while another $210 million of the PIMCO Enhanced Short Maturity Active ETF traded shortly after.
“Because of the prints being back-to-back in correlated instruments, it looks like one investor may be moving money out of cash-parking investments like bond funds and into international ETFs,” Bajaj said.