With the end of 2013 in sight, it is fair to say it has been a rough year for emerging markets investors. It is also fair to say that, in recent months, some green shoots have started to emerge.
For example, exchange traded funds tracking equities in steady, lower beta developing markets such as South Korea and Taiwan have risen as investors have prized emerging economies with inexpensive stocks, reputations for being less volatile and current account surpluses. The iShares MSCI South Korea Capped ETF (NYSEArca: EWY) and the iShares MSCI Taiwan ETF (NYSEArca: EWT) have been solid though not spectacular over the past three months. [South Korea ETF Ready to Soar]
China ETFs are coming off a strong November that saw not only the group’s largest member, the iShares China Large-Cap ETF (NYSEArca: FXI) post a strong gain, but also the impressive debut of the db X-trackers Harvest CSI 300 China A-Shares Fund (NYSEArca: ASHR). ASHR is about six weeks old and already has nearly $193 million in assets under management. [Getting Choosey With China ETFs]
Of course, there have been areas of considerable weakness among emerging markets ETFs and those funds holding Brazilian stocks are among the worst offenders. The iShares MSCI Brazil Capped ETF (NYSEArca: EWZ) is down 17% this year and BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, is not enthusiastic about Brazilian stocks.
In the firm’s new 2014 investment outlook by Chief Investment Strategist Russ Koesterich, Brazil was downgraded to neutral.
“While Brazilian stocks remain attractively valued, ongoing local monetary tightening and a deteriorating fiscal position pose risks to the economy and the stock market,” writes Koesterich. “Also despite economic stagnation, the likelihood that President Rousseff will be re-elected remains high, and continued state intervention will weigh on company profits.”