The stock market continues to want to go higher despite the lack of any major new catalyst and the renewed tensions in the Crimea region of Ukraine.
Yet despite the bullish sentiment at this time, the gains have been much more difficult to come by, as I had predicted at the beginning of the year. This year clearly won’t be a repeat of 2013.
Now, the move of the S&P 500 to 2,000 may still occur later this year, but for greater price appreciation potential, you should look to add positions in regions around the world that are currently struggling but offer above-average longer-term potential.
Here I’m talking about the emerging markets, where we are seeing a clear buildup in wealth and consumer spending. In my view, China remains at the top of the list. (Read “Investment Opportunities in Depressed Chinese Stocks.”) Of course, the stalling economic recovery in the country despite economic growth being above 7.5% has made it more difficult to be a believer in the Far East. But its time will come again, and you will want to be there when it does.
You may be hearing pundits saying to avoid the emerging markets, but I would disagree. Yes, the emerging markets are struggling now, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t look for a potential buying opportunity there.
Take a look at the iShares MSCI Emerging Markets chart below, which shows the recovery from the lows in 2004 and the successive low in 2009. The index is currently moving sideways due to the uncertainties in the emerging markets, but it appears to be showing support, based on my technical analysis.
Chart courtesy of www.StockCharts.com
As far as the emerging markets BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India, and China), Russia is obviously a place to avoid at the moment due to the economic sanctions to be levied against the country given its plan to annex Crimea from Ukraine. Prior to this fiasco, Russia was rapidly becoming a powerhouse in Eastern Europe and the emerging markets due to its vast riches of oil and natural gas, on which Europe is highly dependent for its energy demands. I would be keeping my eye on Russia, but I wouldn’t be an investor at this time.
India is staging good growth as an emerging markets play, but high inflation of more than seven percent may become an issue as the country of nearly one billion people attempts to become a major economic power akin to what China has done.
The one BRIC emerging markets country that really deserves a closer look if you have not already done so is Brazil. The country is set to host the FIFA World Cup of soccer in a few months, and this will be followed by the Olympics in 2016. The two events have allowed the country to build massive infrastructure that has helped to add growth to a region that has been booming. There are some major companies in Brazil that trade on U.S. exchanges and are worth a look, including meat producer BRF S.A. (NYSE/BRFS) and global jet manufacturer Embraer S.A. (NYSE/ERJ). Brazilian exchange-traded funds (ETFs) that may be worth a look include iShares MSCI Brazil Capped (NYSEArca/EWZ) and, for the more aggressive investors, the Market Vectors Brazil Small-Cap ETF (NYSEArca/BRF).