The unclear short term outlook for MIST

The man who brought us a load of “BRICs” – Goldman Sachs’ Jim O’Neill, is now pumping “MIST” – Mexico, Indonesia, South Korea and Turkey, which constitute the four biggest markets in Goldman’s N-11 Equity Fund (GSYAX, quote).

Image courtesy Erich Fredinand:

Kasaba, Turkey

Since May the S&P 500, shown in the chart below by the SPDR S&P 500 Index ETF (SPY, quote), has continued to climb despite the looming fiscal cliff, a contentious and tight election, and speculation of a U.S. recession in 2013.  

The MIST countries have risen as well. The iShares MSCI Mexico Investable Market Index ETF (EWW, quote) has risen nicely since the summer, although it, like SPY, is showing signs of strain given the year-end uncertainty.

Indonesia also shares characteristics with the others — correlation runs high between these markets. The chart below is of the Market Vectors Indonesia Index ETF (IDX, quote).

Back in August I referenced two ETFs for South Korea, one of which — SKOR — was shut down shortly after I mentioned it. The surviving fund is the First Trust Exchange Traded AlphaDEX Fund II (FKO, quote). FKO doesn’t have much volume but has also appreciated since August.

Finally Turkey is not about to break the very clear pattern of correlation between these markets.  

The iShares Turkey Investable Market Index Fund ETF (TUR, quote) charted above looks quite similar to the others — which is potentially a big problem. If things sour in the U.S. and there is such a high correlation between the MIST ETFs and the S&P 500, then the downside for emerging market investors is very real.

A closer look at these charts indicates some subtle differences for Indonesia, South Korea and Turkey.  While SPY and EWW have pulled back over the past few weeks, IDX and FKO have held their own. TUR on the other hand is up. But it is the bigger macro-influences that bother me.

Obviously Mexico will be the most reactive to events in the U.S. as it is geographically closer and more economically integrated. The further away we get the more likely a country’s economy can distinguish itself from a high correlation with the U.S. But no mater what happens, all these countries will be affected to some degree. Long term the outlook is still pretty good for MIST. Short term: watch the U.S.

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