Eurozone debt drama continues to hog the headlines as the seemingly never-ending struggle to ensure financial stability in the currency bloc takes its toll on investors’ confidence. Lackluster economic data releases on the homefront haven’t done much to restore confidence in the global recovery, prompting investors to search far and wide for uncorrelated sources of returns. Previously a hot spot for unparalleled growth, emerging markets now appear to be plagued by the same clouds of uncertainty looming over much of the developed world [see also What Is Deflation? The Ultimate Beginner's Guide].
Dismal economic growth expectations for the eurozone and a sluggish recovery at home have undoubtedly put pressure on developing regions. India’s economy in particular has been nothing short of a roller-coaster ride for investors; the nation’s GDP was growing at a blistering 9.4% in 2010, although intensifying economic woes around the globe have created major headwinds for this Asian giant. India’s GDP has been steadily declining since dipping below 9% for the first time in late 2010; in fact, the latest annual economic growth rate came in at 5.3% at the end of May 2012 [see ETF Country Exposure Tool].
The recent slowdown in India may just be a cyclical phenomenon, however, as the nation has previously endured (and overcome) a similar economic slump. As such, India’s beat down economy at the moment may present investors with an attractive opportunity over the coming months as economic growth expectations gradually improve. With nearly a dozen India ETFs to choose from, there’s no shortage of tools available to access this robust Asian economy [see also 3 Reasons Why Gold Is Overvalued].
Nonetheless, some may wish to avoid equity exposure to this region despite the favorable demographic trends as Indian stocks are notorious for exhibiting high levels of volatility when compared to domestic securities. Enter gold. As the world’s largest consumer of the precious yellow metal, making a bet on India’s economy through an investment in gold is a viable strategy for those who are bullish but hesitant to dip their toes in the overseas equity market [see GLD-Free Gold Bug ETFdb Portfolio].
Ways To Play
Taking a long position in gold presents itself as an indirect play on India’s economy since consumption trends overseas have a material impact on demand and likewise price for the shiny commodity. Gold prices have been stuck in a rut since peaking at $1,923 an ounce in September of 2011, although a revival of the Indian consumer could serve to re-spark the metal’s undeniable long-term uptrend. While India’s economy and gold prices are far from being perfectly correlated, these two assets classes do have a tendency to move in tandem, offering investors a creative way to favorably position themselves in anticipation of improving economic growth [see also Why No Investor Should Own GLD].
Below we highlight some of the more popular options for gaining exposure to the price of gold:
- State Street SPDR Gold Trust (GLD): This is by far the most popular gold exchange-traded product (ETP) on the market; GLD offers unmatched liquidity as well as an active options market, offering up countless ways to make bets on the precious metal.
- iShares COMEX Gold Trust (IAU): Investors who are in it for the long haul will have a hard time passing up IAU, as this is by far the cheapest gold ETP on the market, charging only 0.25% in annual expenses.
- PowerShares Gold Double Long ETN (DGP): This ETN is the most liquid instrument that delivers leveraged exposure to gold prices, serving as a viable trading instrument for more experienced investors.
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Disclosure: No positions at time of writing.