Emerging market economies have had a tough go of it lately. China’s market collapse left a void in the commodities space – a space that developing countries rely on for growth. According to the World Bank, emerging market economies have been set back decades as a result.
The bank went on to say that the world economy is expected to grow 2.4% this year, revised from a previous forecast of 2.9%, while commodity-driven countries are only expected to grow 0.4%. Out of the BRIC countries, only India seems to be experiencing accelerating growth, recently surpassing China’s growth rate.
But emerging markets may have turned a corner based on the most recent data. Investors just need to take a look at how the American Funds New World A Fund (NEWFX) has performed. It’s only up 4.10% year-to-date, but after falling to $44.14 in mid-February, the fund has rebounded to over $52 – an 18% gain in just a few months.
Have Emerging Markets Finally Begun to Rebound?
Despite China leaving a gaping hole in commodity demand, emerging markets have plenty to look forward to. Oil has begun to rebound back to the upside, sparking growth globally, while the data coming out of China is looking encouraging as well.
Commodity prices are beginning to stabilize, which is positive for emerging markets. In addition to oil, gold, silver, copper and steel have started seeing a rise in values. Chinese imports rose 5.1% year-over-year in May, well ahead of economists’ prediction of -2.5%.
The credit environment looks good for emerging market economies too. The slow pace that the Federal Reserve has put on raising interest rates means that loosening credit could spread to other markets. Easing conditions could hit Asia and Latin America soon – a marked difference from the beginning of the year, which suggested that credit tightening was inevitable.
Last Friday’s weaker-than-expected payroll data made it very unlikely that an interest rate hike will happen this month, as hinted in the Fed’s earlier statement. Now it seems to be pushed back to next month at the very least.
All the bad news appears to have been priced into emerging market funds, so any good news translates into gains almost immediately. Supply and demand imbalances are starting to even out, while disinflation, another concern earlier this year, appears to be off the table. Going forward, expectations for growth in emerging markets should only get stronger.
Investors still need to be wary of which emerging markets are expected to recover and which still face difficulties. The traditional BRIC countries will likely recover well, but investors still need to exercise caution with the MINT countries (Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria and Turkey). Smaller emerging markets such as Nigeria face more difficult headwinds unlike their larger counterparts, which are able to rely more on their manufacturing base rather than commodity exports.