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Time to Buy the Beaten-Down Emerging Market ETFs?

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After soaring in 2017, emerging market stocks suffered a brutal sell-off this year. A slew of problems—trade tensions, rising interest rates in the US, a strong dollar, China’s economic slowdown, crises in Argentina and Turkey—impacted these markets.

However, it appears that some investors are now scooping up these beaten down stocks as the longer-term outlook for many developing countries remains positive.

The latest monthly survey from Bank of America Merrill Lynch shows that investors increased their allocation to emerging-market stocks to 13% in November from 5% in October, while reducing their exposure to earlier high-flying technology stocks.

The gridlock in DC could help EM stocks. More tax cuts seem less likely now as Democrats will focus on reducing the budget deficit. That could ease inflationary pressures and the Fed may not have to be aggressive in raising rates to prevent the economy from overheating.

Slide in oil prices benefits most countries in Asia that are net oil importers.  That’s why many developing countries’ currencies—including the Indian rupee and Indonesian Rupiah--have rebounded with the recent plunge in oil prices.

Some optimism on the trade front also helped EM stocks. Reuters reported recently that China has submitted a written response to US demands for trade reforms, and both sides could resume negotiations. Further, FT reported that next round of tariffs on Chinese imports has been put on hold by Trump administration for the time being.

The most popular emerging market ETF--the Vanguard FTSE Emerging Markets ETF (VWO - Free Report) —follows a FTSE index which classifies South Korea as a developed country and does not include it in EM indexes.

The iShares Core MSCI Emerging Markets ETF (IEMG - Free Report)  and the iShares MSCI Emerging Markets ETF (EEM - Free Report) include South Korea and in fact, IEMG is a much cheaper and improved version of EEM.

To learn more about these ETF, please watch the short video above.

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