Why Colombia's Stock Market Beat China's

If you had any doubt about what Fareed Zakaria calls "the rise of the rest," consider a new Bank of America Merrill Lynch report on the performance of emerging markets over the past decade. If you had invested $100 in -emerging-market stocks on Dec. 31, 1999, you'd have $262 today, while $100 invested in the S&P would be worth $91.

The most surprising thing about the study: tiny Colombia tops the list of performers, with a 1,529 percent return over the past decade. That's basically a commodities story (the South American nation is rich in coal, copper, and gold), and indeed, the huge global demand for everything from oil to minerals to agricultural crops (due itself in large part of the rise of developing nations) has made numerous poor nations richer in recent years.

An even bigger surprise is that BRIC darling China actually underperformed its peers, rising only 150 percent compared with energy-rich Brazil (520 percent) and Russia (326 percent) or well-regulated India (274 percent), which some investors see as a safer and more diverse bet compared with the Chinese equity market, which is dominated by bank stocks.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch equity strategist Michael Penn predicts all these markets, as well as others like South Africa, will surge ahead in 2010 on the back of new infrastructure development and a growing middle class. "Emerging-market consumers are only just at the beginning of their credit cycle," says Penn. That means they have plenty left to spend.

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Why Colombia's Stock Market Beat China's | News