The novel coronavirus pandemic has shut down businesses and governments across the world. It has also triggered a health-care crisis and wreaked economic havoc everywhere. Nonetheless, it seems to be moving in mysterious ways when seen through the rubric of single-country equity exchange-traded funds.

The first batch of Covid-19 cases were linked to Wuhan, a Chinese city with 11 million people. While the crisis there has ebbed and many businesses have reopened, consumers remain wary and economic recovery is proceeding very slowly, providing a glimpse of what other nations could expect as they reopen for business. Despite that, the Harvest CSI 300 China A-Shares ETF (ASHR) has declined just 5.5% since the beginning of 2020. That puts ASHR among the year's best single-country ETF performers. The $1.4 billion fund tracks a basket of 300 publicly traded stocks in mainland China’s known as A-shares.

Another case in point is the sizable divergence in the U.S. between its equity performance and domestic coronavirus cases. 

Despite the U.S. having the highest number of Covid-19 total cases and total deaths, the Schwab U.S. Broad Market ETF (SCHB) is down just 9.5% year-to-date. Like ASHR, this puts SCHB among the top-performing single-country ETFs.

According to the online statistics site Worldometer, the U.S. had nearly 1.3 million Covid-19 cases and more than 81,000 deaths as of Monday. The site uses data from the CDC, the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University and global governments At least for now, U.S. equity investors seemingly aren’t fretting about these scary numbers.

Other countries hard hit by the coronavirus haven’t fared so well. 

Spain and the U.K. are next in line behind the U.S. in the total number of Covid-19 cases, with 268,143 and 223.060 cases, respectively. And publicly traded stocks in both countries remain sharply down. The iShares MSCI Spain ETF (EWP) has fallen 30% and the iShares MSCI United Kingdom ETF (EWU) has dropped 25.7%.

Hard-hit Italy, with more than 219,000 cases and the third-highest death toll, has been hammered economically and that’s reflected in the iShares MSCI Italy ETF (EWI), which has lost 29.5%.

But stocks from certain countries with significantly lower numbers of Covid-19 diagnosed cases and deaths have also fared poorly.

The Global X MSCI Greece ETF (GREK) and the iShares MSCI Thailand ETF (THD), for example, have cratered 41.4% and 25% year-to-date despite the fact that both countries have low Covid-19 case numbers: Thailand with 3,015 cases and Greece with 2,726.

Likewise, the iShares MSCI Australia ETF (EWA) has fallen 25.3% since the start of 2020 despite that country having 6,948 cases, a relatively low number versus other developed-market countries.

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