Investors Discover Euro ETF at Worst Time

Retail investors tried to play George Soros last month, flocking to the CurrencyShares Euro Trust in an effort to call a bottom in the still unfolding global crisis that has taken the currency mimicked by the ETF down to a four-year low today.

The 50-day average volume for the ETF exploded by 150 percent in May even as the ETF dived 8 percent, according to data by Birinyi Associates. Almost 2 million shares traded on average each day. While that is relatively small compared to the ETFs that are based on stocks, it does put it up there with average trading activity in the PowerShares DB Dollar Bullish Fund, which averages just over 2 million shares a day.

“This increased activity is the retail investor trying to call a bottom in the Euro,” said Brian Kelly, founder of Kanundrum Capital, who bet against the currency last month. “This is not related to much to shorting activity because the ETF is difficult to borrow and the insititiunal investors would just do their shorting in the spot market.”

The Euro sank to the lowest since March 2006, falling below $1.20 today, as default speculation spread to Hungary. Many currency traders are betting the Euro could fall to parity with the Dollar or even disappear altogether. The Euro Trust showed little signs of breaking out of its downtrend in the last month, except for a brief 3-day turnaround starting on May 19 where it gained more than 2 percent.

But the retail investor didn’t do so badly on some of the other ETFs and Exchange Traded Notes they began trading actively last month. For example, the iPath S&P 500 Vix Short Term Fund, which seeks to track a spike in market volatility, surged a whopping 35 percent.

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