It's becoming clear what separates winners from losers in emerging-market stocks.
On the winning side are exporting countries; on the losing, net importers. Although investors generally lump emerging-market stocks together as a high-risk investment with potentially higher rewards, the two groups have emerged since late June. That's when countries that export more than they import began to climb, while net importers continued to struggle. Both fell earlier this summer on worries about slowing economic growth and a pullback in stimulus by the Federal Reserve.
Stocks from export-heavy South Korea, for example, are down 1 percent this year in U.S. dollar terms, after being down 19 percent in late June. The country's big exporters like Samsung and Hyundai are benefiting from stronger demand from U.S. customers and from a recovering Europe. China, Russia and other big exporters have likewise seen their markets rise.
But net importers like India and Indonesia continue to struggle because their industries don't generate as much revenue from developed economies. They're also feeling more pain due to expectations that the Fed will slow its bond-buying stimulus program, says S&P Capital IQ strategist Alec Young, which is causing U.S. interest rates to rise. Higher U.S. rates would mean less foreign investment flowing in, which India and others have used to cover their trade gaps.