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Run, Don’t Walk to BRIC ETFs


Well-known is the fact that 2013 has been a dismal year for emerging markets ETFs and the largest countries, namely the BRIC quartet, have been among the worst offenders in the loss column. There have been some signs that BRIC is starting to turn. China is decidedly leading the way, which in turn, benefits Brazil because the latter depends on the former as a prime commodities export market.

Even India, the hardest hit in terms of equity market losses among the BRIC ETFs, has bounced in recent weeks. In just the past month, the iShares MSCI BRIC ETF (BKF) has gained 5% while the SPDR S&P BRIC 40 ETF (BIK) has climbed 5.7%. [Don't Forget This BRIC ETF]

More good tidings could be on the way for BRIC ETFs, particularly if an interesting seasonal trend plays out again this year. BKF has risen in December 90% of the time — for an average gain of 4.6%, reports Brendan Conway for Barron’s, citing Ned Davis Research, which acknowledges such a seasonal trend is rare.

Still, emerging economies are struggling as their domestic currencies depreciated and foreign investors exit in anticipation to an end to easy money. The Federal Reserve meets this week and expectations are in place that some formal announcement regarding tapering will be the result of the two-day meeting that ends Thursday. A haircut of $10 billion to the Fed’s $85 billion-per-month bond-buying program is the number most frequently cited. [BRICs Lead Emerging Markets ETFs]

Tapering could trigger higher U.S. interest rates, which to this point, has pressured emerging markets bonds, currencies and stocks. Interestingly, BIK is up 10.1% over the past 90 days while yields on 10-year U.S. Treasuries have surged 36.3% over the same time.

“While higher rates have sunk most emerging-markets investments this year, history suggests 34% of emerging-markets ETFs should have a positive reaction to a rising yield curve, and that includes bond ETFs,” Barron’s reported, citing Ned Davis.

Emerging markets stocks as a play on rising U.S. interest rates may not be the first trade investors think when tapering arrives, but there is evidence to suggest it has been working. BKF, the iShares BRIC fund, is up 5.2% in the past three months. Benefiting from compelling valuations, among other factors, the iShares China Large Cap-ETF (FXI) has climbed 12.4% since June 14.


ETF Trends editorial team contributed to this post.

The opinions and forecasts expressed herein are solely those of Tom Lydon, and may not actually come to pass. Information on this site should not be used or construed as an offer to sell, a solicitation of an offer to buy, or a recommendation for any product.