By The ETF Professor
With just a few days left before 2012's halfway point arrives, investors might feel disappointed with the performance of emerging markets ETFs year-to-date. Following a stellar start to 2012, emerging markets funds have wilted thanks to China's slowing economy and Europe's sovereign debt woes, among other catalysts.
The Vanguard MSCI Emerging Markets ETF (NYSEARCA:VWO), the largest emerging markets ETF by assets, is up just 2.77% year-to-date while the iShares MSCI BRIC Index (NYSEARCA:BKF) is down 0.55%. Those are just two examples of slowing growth throughout the developing world, a factor that might be scaring investors away from emerging markets.
The good news is that a select few developing nations' ETFs have started to show signs of life, perhaps indicating that globally exposed investors will see an improved second half of 2012. Here are some funds to consider:
iShares MSCI Turkey Investable Market Index Fund (NYSEARCA:TUR) Traders can find myriad reasons to be bullish on the Turkish economy, but the country has run into some problems as of late. The country's economic growth has been, in part, fueled by easy credit. That credit lifted Turkey's current account deficit to about 10% of GDP.
This sizable deficit, along with Turkey's dependence on and proximity to Europe, have dragged TUR lower in recent months, but the ETF found support at $46 and flirted with $50 on Friday. JPMorgan recently raised its rating on Turkey to Overweight from Neutral.
Market Vectors Vietnam ETF (NYSEARCA:VNM) For a while, the Market Vectors Vietnam ETF was able to stave off the negative impact of glum Chinese economic news, but China's ills, along with the realization that Vietnamese growth will slow this year, have caught up to VNM. During January and February, VNM was one of the best-performing ETFs tracking a developing nation. Since mid-March, the fund has lost 8.5%.
If there is good news about slowing growth in Vietnam, it is that the country's government has pledged to inject an additional $1 billion a month into the economy. This action was targeted at increasing spending and spurring more bank lending.
Some analysts believe Vietnamese stocks could surge 65% by next year, making VNM all the more alluring.
iShares MSCI Thailand Investable Market Index Fund (NYSEARCA:THD) This fund shares some common attributes with VNM. Both track booming Southeast Asian economies. Both have spent much of 2012 outperforming comparable China ETFs. However, neither have been able to fully escape the pain wrought by China and Europe on the emerging markets.
THD was trading just over $75 in early May before dipping below $65 in early June. The $65 area looks like support as THD is now flirting with $69. Investors might note that THD has outperformed broader equity indices in the second halves of two out of the previous three years. In the last three years, THD traded up 30%, up 38.5% and down 6% between July 1 through December 31.
Global X FTSE Andean 40 ETF (NYSEARCA:AND) The iShares MSCI Brazil Index Fund (NYSEARCA:EWZ) has done little to climb out of its bear market. Brazil is home to political risk, a depressed currency and inflationary pressures.
The countries represented in the Global X FTSE Andean 40 ETF - Chile, Colombia and Peru - are not perfect. However, the trio is preferable to Brazil in the near to medium term. Consider this: AND is up 11% year-to-date. The iShares S&P Latin America 40 Index Fund (NYSEARCA:ILF), a Brazil-heavy multi-country play, is down 3.38%.
Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.
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