Amid swirling streams of good and bad economic data, unprecedented Fed intervention, historic upheaval in the Middle East, soaring food and energy costs and the back-to-back-to-back disasters in Japan, it's easy to see why investors might be just a wee bit dismayed right now.
In the past, any one of these issues could have been enough to undercut the stock market, but in this new era of range-bound volatility, strategists like Michael Purves of BGC Financial say, "you have to be agile and short-term and cannot just sit on stocks and hope."
And while he concedes that it rarely pays to "fight the Fed" and that the markets are not ready to kick the habit of what we call QE2, there are still opportunities to find value.
One such place is Brazil, where Purves says the domestic growth story is still very much intact and that recent givebacks in that country make ETFs like the Market Vectors Brazil Small-Cap (BRF) attractive here. Likewise, Purves says the Market Vectors Gold Miners (GDX) looks good since the miners have not fully participated in the run-up that has pushed gold and silver to multidecade highs.
So if you're feeling lost and lacking in direction, perhaps you can take comfort in the fact that professionals feel your pain, too -- only they call it a "displaced fundamental compass," rather than just saying they're lost.
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