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TheStreet Open House

Russia Boosts Emerging Market ETFs

Stock quotes in this article: EEM, VWO, GUR

For investors with a longer time horizon, the underperformance of emerging market equity due to Europe's problems can offer opportunities to gain exposure to emerging markets for the mid- to long-term.

This is especially true because many emerging markets do not have the same government debt problems gripping Europe. Because they are being pulled down by the same market concerns, but going forward in the mid to long term, they will not be held down by the same negative economic side-effects of debt problems.

In the case of emerging and Eastern Europe, the proximity of Hungary has led to concerns for their markets. But after Friday's panic, the government worked over the weekend to come up with solutions and Hungary can avoid default by making budget cuts.

If Eastern Europe ETFs are oversold, however, the play here is not GUR or ESR, but Market Vectors Poland (PLND) and iShares MSCI Austria (EWO). These two ETFs have the heftiest exposure to any crisis in Eastern Europe and it showed on Friday.

GUR slid 5.1% on the day, ESR fell 5.7%, RSX fell 5.4%, VWO fell 3.3%, but EWO lost 7.5% and PLND tumbled 8.3%. The latter two funds were victims of weaker currencies, as the euro and Polish zloty slid sharply.

EWO will decline whenever Eastern European debt becomes a concern because the Austrian banking system has the greatest exposure to debt from the region. Last week, the nation replaced the Spain and Italy ETFs as the biggest loser among eurozone country funds. While EWO might be a solid play if the euro rebounds, a stronger play would be the Poland ETF.

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