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Top 10 Asia ETFs -- Excluding China and India

The area formerly known as the Asian Tiger countries, mot including Japan or Hong Kong, have never been more important even as most underperform recently. Those countries are blessed with excellent demographics and natural resources. Some are industrial powers like Singapore, Taiwan and South Korea while others offer good commodity plays like Malaysia, Philippines and Indonesia.

But, as with most investing schemes from our view, timing is everything.

Japan certainly is in decline. Its debt burdens combined with poor demographics suggest a country that has more long term problems than the eurozone currently. For them these issues are becoming better known throughout the investment world. Clearly most know the markets there have been in a bear market since the 1990 peak with the exception of a few impressive bear market rallies. Nevertheless, large and even small Japanese companies have become multinational in scope and highly dependent on exports. Most are diversified and may do well given their global exposure away from domestic bear markets or conditions.

The former Asian Tiger markets have more volatility (beta) compared with other more established markets. When markets and global economies are stronger these markets generally with outperform; and, conversely when global economies are weak they will underperform. The Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam are blessed with both good demographics (younger population) and are rich in natural resources. Longer term these economies could decouple from other markets given their own domestic demand and needs.

In this sector there really are only 10 ETFs worth evaluating now. But as these economies grow no doubt many will ETF offerings will expand into various subsectors within each country beginning with small-caps and then various others: consumer, financial, natural resources and so forth.

We rank the top 10 ETF by our proprietary stars system as outlined below. If an ETF you're interested in is not included but you'd like to know a ranking send an inquiry to and we'll attempt to satisfy your interest.

Strong established linked index
Excellent consistent performance and index tracking
Low fee structure
Strong portfolio suitability
Excellent liquidity

Established linked index even if "enhanced"
Good performance or more volatile if "enhanced" index
Average to higher fee structure
Good portfolio suitability or more active management if "enhanced" index
Decent liquidity

Enhanced or seasoned index
Less consistent performance and more volatile
Fees higher than average
Portfolio suitability would need more active trading
Average to below average liquidity

Index is new
Issue is new and needs seasoning
Fees are high
Portfolio suitability also needs seasoning
Liquidity below average

We feature a technical view of conditions from monthly chart views. Simplistically, we recommend longer-term investors stay on the right side of the 12 month simple moving average. When prices are above the moving average, stay long, and when below remain in cash or short. Some more interested in a fundamental approach may not care so much about technical issues preferring instead to buy when prices are perceived as low and sell for other reasons when high; but, this is not our approach.

Premium members to the ETF Digest receive added signals when markets become extended such as DeMark triggers to exit overbought/oversold conditions

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