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2 Country ETFs for Libyan Crisis

The following commentary comes from an independent investor or market observer as part of TheStreet's guest contributor program, which is separate from the company's news coverage.

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) - Stock assets would have pulled back soon enough. The fact that we have Libya oil production uncertainty is merely the profit-taking excuse that many had been waiting for.

Keep in mind, most of the world's indexes had been retreating already. Many emerging markets had been flirting with full-fledged corrections before crude spiked. Even Europe had been flatter than a pre-Columbus nautical map.

Could the U.S. defy the equity gods on the strength of corporate earnings alone? Not when the global industrial cycle is as interconnected as it has ever been. Certainly not when home prices hit new lows, interest rates climb, commodity-price inflation soars and employers hesitate to hire.

So where do you go from here? In truth, the choices may be limited. With that said, if stop-limit loss orders have increased your cash position, and you're willing to rotate into Country ETFs with increasing relative strength, consider countries with vast energy reserves.

For instance, the Egyptian uprising began exactly one month ago. While Egypt is not an oil producer, investors began eyeing a possible spread of Middle East unrest by shifting towards oil-rich nations like Canada. The iShares MSCI Canada Fund (EWC) posted the best one-month rolling returns with an approximate 6.2% gain.

With Libya protests kicking into overdrive in the last 3 sessions, here's how several oil-rich Country ETFs and oil-agnostic Country ETFs have fared:

Here's how well oil-rich nation investments have held up: In the oil-rich category, Market Vectors Russia (RSX) was up 0.6% and EWC was down 1.2%, while in the oil-agnostic category, SPDR S&P 500 (SPY) and iShares MSCI Japan (EWJ) were down 3%.

Even before the Libyan nightmare began, I began ratcheting up my exposure to iShares MSCI Canada. The reasoning? If the global industrial cycle remained vibrant, non-OPEC standouts like Canada and Russia would benefit from rising commodity demand. Moreover, the Fed-inspired devaluation of the dollar would likely benefit the energy producers. In other words, these country ETFs stood to benefit from enhanced global GDP.

Now that we're looking at oil price spikes where people are talking about threats to ongoing global expansion, one still has reasons to believe that Canada and Russia will outperform on a relative basis. I myself have enough exposure to Russia in regional emerging market ETFs, so I'm a bigger proponent of EWC.
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