Exchange traded funds that invest in the so-called BRIC nations of Brazil, Russia, India and China have been under pressure lately, raising questions about the health of these key drivers of the global economy.

Cullen Roche at Pragmatic Capitalism on Thursday writes that the most recent PMI data from all four nations shows a downside trend.

“In the last few months we have seen a persistent weakness in trends out of the BRIC nations,” he said.  “This is important because the countries have been the one truly strong leg in the global recovery.”

Some investors have turned to emerging market and BRIC ETFs because these developing economies have shown growth while developed nations slow as they wrestle with fiscal and debt challenges. [Russia is Goldman’s New Favorite BRIC Country]

The BRICs have managed to maintain steady growth even amid the global credit crisis. [Checking in on the BRIC ETFs]

ETF options here include SPDR S&P BRIC 40 ETF (NYSEArca: BIK), iShares MSCI BRIC Index Fund (NYSEArca: BKF) and Guggenheim BRIC ETF (NYSEArca: EEB).

Investors can also carve out individual BRIC countries with ETFs such as iShares MSCI Brazil Index Fund (NYSEArca: EWZ), Market Vectors Russia (NYSEArca: RSX) and PowerShares India Portfolio (NYSEArca: PIN) and iShares FTSE China 25 (NYSEArca: FXI).

“If the BRIC countries were to experience a substantive and sustained recession, Europe and the U.S. would suffer mightily as they continue to struggle with their balance sheet recessions,” Roche said Thursday. “This is a story that needs greater attention as Europe and the U.S. steal the spotlight. This is just one more piece in an already worrisome global economic puzzle.”

SPDR S&P BRIC 40 ETF

iShares MSCI Brazil

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