U.S. stocks may be in the spotlight these days, but for emerging markets, 2017 was a banner year. The MSCI Emerging Markets index, which tracks 24 countries representing 10 percent of world market capitalization, generated cumulative gross returns of 37.75 percent in 2017. By comparison, the Standard & Poor’s 500 index returned 19.42 percent, according to Morningstar.
The surge in emerging market stocks reflects their strengthening fundamentals and a growing global economy. It’s a significant turnaround from the previous six years, when emerging markets suffered a slump characterized by spiraling profitability and poor earnings growth.
Last year’s performance was welcomed by emerging market investors, and the outlook for 2018 remains mostly positive. According to the latest Emerging Markets Investor Sentiment Survey by Columbia Threadneedle Investments, 57 percent of investment managers and advisors expressed optimism about emerging markets’ prospects. Forty-three percent said they planned to increase their emerging markets allocation over the next 12 months.