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Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Is China the Key to Stock ETFs in September?

When mainland Chinese stocks drop 5% or more on a given day, world markets take notice. Similarly, when China ETFs or Chinese stock markets fall 20% from their highs, investors start to get nervous.

Nevertheless, when it comes to the future’s most dominant economic force, “green shoots” can bloom in any season. During the precarious pullback in June, the iShares China 25 Index (FXI) found support at the 50-day moving average before rocketing higher yet again.

Still, we’re about to see the first breakdown of technical support since March… when the 6-month, world stock rally began. With FXI falling roughly 1.2% on Monday, August 31, 2009, the popular benchmark breached the short-term, 50-day moving average.

Ditto for SPDR S&P China (GXC) and PowerShares Golden Dragon China (PGJ). Again, we haven’t seen the China ETFs below 50-day trendlines since March… when they were moving the other direction!

Should we even be concerned that the Shanghai Composite over on the mainland is down 20%… or that it has fallen below a longer-term 125-day support line? I think we may need to perk up!

Consider the following reality: The 6-month cyclical bull for worldwide stock assets began in China. Its stimulus package focused 75% of its $550 billion directly on infrastructure, which required a host of natural resources from iron ore to nickel. China went on to purchase resources and companies in countries from Brazil to Australia, and the re-inflation of the global industrial cycle seemed to begin anew.

It follows that we must consider the impact of falling equity prices in China. Would the rest of the world really have investor confidence were it not for China, Southeast Asia and expectations for emerging market growth?

It’s fine to celebrate the 6 consecutive months of gains for the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq. What’s more, we may decide that a 1% Monday selloff from recent highs is “no big deal.”

However, I myself am particularly wary of developed market ETFs after an unprecedented winning streak. Not only should we expect a correction, but we may need to see conviction on the part of emerging market investors (a la “buying the dips”). Meanwhile, keep a firm handle on your stop-loss protection.

Hey… it’s a different world out there. It used to be whatever happens in the U.S. markets, the rest of the world had to take notice. Today, whatever happens in China… the U.S./Europe need to take notice.

Disclosure I am long FXI shares.

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