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SAC, Bridgewater Go Against Grain, Bet on Emerging Markets

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Money managers had mixed views on trading strategies in the third quarter, especially when it came to gold. That's not the case with a developing trend: emerging markets.

Hedge fund managers, who invest on behalf of the wealthy, have stuck with equities instead of piling into low-risk, low-yielding bonds as many Americans have. That makes hedge fund managers' views on global stock markets even more valuable.

Prominent hedge fund managers Steve Cohen of SAC Capital and Ray Dalio of Bridgewater Associates are turning to emerging-market ETFs to help improve their fund performance, according to a regulatory releases of their holdings. When everyone else is becoming more concerned about the signs of slowing growth in emerging economies, these managers are turning more bullish, attracted by fast-growing economies and declining debt.

SAC initiated an investment in iShares FTSE Xinhau China 25 ETF (FXI) in the third quarter. The ETF seeks investment results that correspond to the FTSE China 25 Index, which consists of 25 of the largest and most liquid Chinese companies. The ETF's holdings include China Mobile, China Construction Bank and Cnooc. SAC's investment is small when compared with its other positions, but as Cohen looks for ways to pare losses, this may signal a new strategy for the billionaire.

Bridgewater added to its second- and third-largest holdings, the Vanguard MSCI Emerging Markets ETF (VWO) and the iShares MSCI Emerging Markets Index Fund (EEM). Each is designed to mimic equity-market performance in global emerging markets by investing in stocks located in countries such as Brazil, Russia, China, Korea and Taiwan.

Bridgewater originally invested in the two ETFs in 2009, but has aggressively been building his position in each over the past two quarters. Together they account for 25% of Bridgewater's portfolio.

All three of the ETFs have fallen this year and are also down since June 30. But SAC and Bridgewater are betting that as growth in emerging markets outpaces the U.S. and Europe by wide margins, they'll stand to benefit. After all, investing in ETFs is a less risky way to of retaining exposure to emerging markets without putting all your eggs in one basket.

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