BOSTON ( TheStreet) -- We have witnessed a massive rebound in the stock market, with exchange traded funds such as the S&P 500 SPDR (SPY), iShares Russell 2000 ETF (IWM) and the Russell 3000 ETF (IWV) registering increases of as much as 60% from the year's low in March. If the past is any indication, with the economy as a guide, we should expect a much tamer showing next year.
Broad-based index funds may not produce such stellar gains, so investors may need to select individual foreign countries, certain sectors or themes. The debate as to whether the U.S. stock-market rally is justified leaves me wanting to find countries that are on firmer economic footing.
Chile has proven itself as an attractive investment destination for having bottomed six months before the S&P 500. It had a much smaller decline and is now within a few percentage points of its all-time high. Copper exports contributed to the outperformance. China is the big source of copper demand.
Copper is a leading indicator of economic activity. If the global economy continues to recover in 2010, copper and anyone in the copper business, like Chile, stands to do well. Vietnam, Pakistan and India also will need more copper as quality of life and services improve.The iShares Chile Investable Market Index Fund (ECH) is a simple way to access that theme. The fund has 34 holdings, charges a 0.63% fee and is heaviest in the utilities, materials and industrial sectors. The next idea is likely to be either a homerun or a triple play. The PowerShares Global Coal Portfolio (PKOL) is a well-constructed ETF that provides access to coal companies and several foreign countries. When the price of crude oil imploded last fall, the PowerShares Global Coal Portfolio tumbled 60%. The ETF is up 140% from its low as crude has more than doubled.