• Bloomberg


Investors are fleeing an exchange-traded fund tracking Japanese stocks on concern that the new coronavirus will further dampen economic growth if it gains a foothold in the country.

JPMorgan BetaBuilders Japan ETF lost $315 million (¥34.59 billion) on Wednesday, the biggest one-day outflow since its inception in June 2018, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. JPMorgan Chase & Co. holds about 90 percent of the $4 billion fund, known by the ticker BBJP, so it was likely the culprit behind the withdrawal.

Japan’s economy is teetering toward a recession now, with economists estimating gross domestic product shrank an annualized 4 percent in the more recent quarter. In addition, Japan reported its first death from the coronavirus Thursday, sparking worries the illness could spread. One of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s advisers said earlier this week that the coronavirus “could be a significant drag for Japan’s economy.”

“Japan is certainly dependent — especially the automobile sectors — on growth in China, on Chinese demand, and that’s a sector that’s been hit hard,” said Chris Gaffney, president of world markets at TIAA. “That would justify some of those outflows.”

JPMorgan’s press office declined to comment on whether it was behind this week’s withdrawal from BBJP.

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