While he's not yet ready to dive in, China, India, South Korea, and gold are on Successful Investing editor Doug Fabian’s watch list right now.
If we look at the Asian equity markets, we see a decided downturn in three of the largest—China, South Korea, and India. The decline in China so far in 2013 has been very sharp, with the iShares FTSE China 25 Index (FXI) now down more than 8.7% year-to-date.
Conditions in another major Asian market, South Korea, aren't much better. The iShares MSCI South Korea (EWY) is down 6.19% year to date, as money is flowing away from this market, even though it enjoyed very big gains through the latter half of 2012.
Another emerging market that has had a tough time of late is India, as shown in the iShares India Nifty 50 Index (INDY). This fund is down 3.53% in 2013.
In the case of South Korea, political concern about North Korean saber rattling is partially to blame for the latest decline. But the point is not the "why" of the decline in EWY or FXI; the point is that these three markets aren't experiencing a rally the way US markets have.
Each of these funds has recently traded below both the 50- and 200-day moving averages, a clearly bearish sign for their short-term prospects.
Now, in terms of the demographic and fundamental aspects of these three markets, I suspect each has much greater growth potential than the United States. However, the one thing they don't have is the world's largest central bank ready and willing to mitigate risk the way the Ben Bernanke-led Federal Reserve does.
Moreover, China, South Korea and India are suffering from higher inflation and a slow-growth Europe (a huge customer for emerging-market export countries).
Interestingly, the decline below the short- and long-term moving averages in these three markets is, I suspect, the beginning of a reboot in these respective markets. It's also the beginning of a potential buy setup in each.
You see, when I look for low-risk tactical buying opportunities, I first look for sectors and/or countries that have strong growth potential and that also have undergone a correction. Rather than chasing the hottest sectors and trying to ride the momentum wave in each, it makes more sense here to look for recently corrected sectors and monitor them for a pending rebound. If that rebound occurs, it could be the beginning of a big move higher in any one of these emerging-market funds.
Another sector of the market that's well into its reboot phase is precious metals, particularly gold. The SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) and the MarketVectors Gold Miners (GDX) show the major correction in both the spot price of gold and gold mining stocks. There has been a major sell-off in both GLD and GDX, and each trade is well below its respective 50- and 200-day moving averages.
Could this situation offer a buying opportunity in the sector, or is it the beginning of even more downside in the space? The truth is, nobody knows if the next correction is going to be the beginning of a more dastardly downturn, or if it's going to be a pullback that gives us a reboot we can profit from.
I suspect that in both the emerging markets and in gold, we are looking at reboot events likely to make us some serious money going forward. And while I'm not ready to pull the trigger and enter emerging markets or gold at this juncture, they are at the top of our tactical buying watch list.