Ay caramba! The party continues for investors in Latin America

13th July 2010

Well surprise, surprise. In a year when China's stock market has tumbled by 26%, Japan's by 6%, Australia's by 10%, Britain's by 8% and the euro area by 9%, Latin America has held its own.

If you'd held a portfolio that tracked Brazil, Argentina, Mexico and Chile in equal proportions since the start of this year, you'd have cleared a 3% profit in the first half of 2010.

Or 6% if you'd included Venezuela and Colombia – two countries that stretch the definition of ‘investable markets' somewhat. Plus another 1.5% or so in dividends.

Now that probably doesn't sound like a mighty incentive to you.

A 4.5% gain in six months probably looks a bit lame at a time when you could have got at least 1.5% from a building society account, and with zero risk too.

But then, if you're serious about emerging market investment then you won't be looking at the headline figures anyway.

It'll always be the surging consumer market, the rapidly growing economy, the global trade environment and the stability of the political system that will sway your decisions.

And quite right too.

Any portfolio with any interest in emerging markets ought to hold at least some Latin American exposure. It's a vast, sprawling continent with half a billion people, mainly young and all intent on affluence.

As Chris Palmer, Gartmore's Head of Global Emerging Markets puts it: "The regional focus is no longer solely on commodities.

"Instead, the domestic demand story is becoming increasingly compelling, as the middle income and lower-middle income classes reap the benefits of improving credit conditions and stable economies.

"Higher disposable incomes are boosting demand for big ticket items such as white goods and automobiles."

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