India stocks have surged 11.5 percent so far, but its ETF, the Barclays iPath MSCI Indiafund, is actually the best-performing of all its single-country piers, gaining 21.3 percent for the year. The fund has outperformed the broader Indian index as it carries the top 68 stocks in the country.
Similarly, Brazil's ETF, the iShares MSCI Brazil Index has jumped 15.4 percent in 2012 while the broader market is up 10.8 percent.
For investors who favor multinationals — even if they don't want direct exposure to other countries — following the foreign markets is a helpful tool to analyze those big conglomerates.
"The story for the emerging markets is clearly they decelerated, but you have governments that are easing policies," says Gary Flam, portfolio manager at Bel Air Investment Advisors in Los Angeles.
"They spent 2011 fighting inflation and tightening, and now they're embarking on central-bank easing and that's seen as providing a boost to those economies and those underlying markets," he adds. "Domestic investors who are in large multinational companies have to know what's going on."
Many investors, though, remain cautious about foreign markets due to contagion fears regarding the European debt crisis and global economic slowdown.
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