Opportunities and Challenges of Emerging Market Trading


Emerging markets are typically found in developing regions and are characterised by rapid economic growth, high productivity levels, expanding populations, and increasing industrialisation. Their higher volatility compared to established markets presents both opportunities and risks for traders, while the less mature financial infrastructures and regulatory frameworks lead to increased uncertainty. In this article, we discuss the opportunities and challenges that these types of markets offer.

Understanding Trading and Investing in Emerging Markets

Several factors contribute to the potential benefits of emerging markets while at the same time adding to the risks. The transition from closed to open economies creates a dynamic environment for traders as the exchange rates of the local currencies may experience high volatility. Furthermore, resource-rich nations within emerging markets provide lucrative trading opportunities in the global commodity markets.

Organisations like MSCI and FTSE classify emerging market countries based on specific economic indicators such as GDP per capita, market size, level of liquidity of equity and debt markets, level of development of the major financial institutions, and accessibility by foreign investors.

The so-called BRICS countries, for example, represent five emerging markets with major economic growth and opportunities for investment: Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa. Mexico is a significant emerging market in North America, while Thailand and Indonesia are key players in Southeast Asia.

The Benefits of Investing in Emerging Markets

Expanding industries and burgeoning consumer classes can bring a substantial return on investment that goes way beyond the relatively stable but slower growth seen in developed markets.

High Growth Stocks and Exotic Currencies

In a market with high growth potential, equity can multiply in value if favourable economic conditions are met. Therefore, from a portfolio perspective, undervalued stocks of emerging growth companies can provide higher expected returns even if you are a trader. At the same time, portfolio risk can be diversified through exotic currencies, commodities and other emerging markets assets whenever they exhibit a negative correlation with the developed markets. Additionally, exotic currency pairs experience more significant price fluctuations and lower liquidity, creating unique forex trading opportunities.

Emerging Market Funds

Traders looking for exposure to high-growth emerging markets can try to identify the best emerging market funds. ETFs, for example, are a very accessible and efficient way for traders to tap into the potential of emerging economies. Designed to track the performance of a specific basket of stocks, bonds, currencies, or other assets within emerging markets, they offer diversification and provide liquidity, ease of trading on stock exchanges, and transparency in terms of holdings. At FXOpen, you can trade exotic currency pairs, stock, and ETF CFDs.

Risks of Investing in Emerging Markets

The lack of liquidity that characterises emerging markets often results in wider bid-ask spreads and difficulty executing large trades without significantly impacting prices. Instability prevails in emerging markets due to economic and political uncertainty, while asset valuation can be a daunting task.

Market-Specific Emerging Market Risk

Returns in developed markets can be assumed to exhibit a pattern resembling normal distributions. Consequently, financial models offer relatively accurate expected equity prices. Conversely, the valuation of emerging market assets doesn't align with the same mean-variance analysis. Moreover, due to the continuous evolution of emerging markets, leveraging historical data to establish meaningful correlations between events and returns becomes nearly impossible. Difficulty raising capital and poor corporate governance can also lead to a higher risk premium on stocks and bonds.

Currency and Exchange Rate Risks

Sudden shifts in exchange rates can lead to unexpected gains or losses, affecting profitability and competitiveness. Interest rates play a pivotal role in exchange rate movements. Traders consider the interest rate differentials between the currencies they are trading. Higher interest rates in one currency may attract foreign capital, affecting its exchange rate.

Political and Regulatory Risks

Government instability in developing regions creates an unpredictable trading environment through tax hikes, alterations in market policies, challenges in managing inflation, and regulations concerning resource extraction. The lack of transparency and the potential for inconsistent law enforcement add another extra layer of risk. Sudden changes in government policies, civil unrest, or economic crises can lead to abrupt currency devaluations.

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Trading Strategies for Mitigating Emerging Market Risk

To handle the unique challenges these markets present, traders may employ a combination of strategies that allow them to exploit profitable opportunities while keeping the risk acceptable.

Balancing the Risks and Rewards of Investing

Diversification across various emerging markets and asset classes can reduce the impact of highly volatile markets. Leveraging local expertise through knowledgeable advisors is invaluable. Stop-loss orders help navigate the volatility. Traders should also stay informed about local political and economic developments by closely following economic calendars and press releases.

Fundamental and Technical Analysis

Fundamental analysis delves into economic indicators like GDP growth, inflation rates, political stability, and regulatory frameworks. Studying these parameters helps traders gauge the market's health and potential for growth. Technical analysis, on the other hand, examines historical price and volume data to identify trends and patterns, helping traders make informed entry and exit decisions. Both analyses can be applied together for a comprehensive overview of an emerging market and for an effective strategy that balances the inherent risks with the potential rewards.

Hedging Investments by Risk and Type

Hedging in emerging markets usually involves using derivatives such as options, futures, or currency swaps to manage and mitigate potential losses. Options can be employed to safeguard against unfavourable price movements in assets like stocks and bonds, while futures are commonly preferred for hedging against currency fluctuations or shifts in commodity prices. These derivative instruments provide traders with valuable tools to manage risk and protect their positions in a volatile and unpredictable environment.


In summary, emerging markets offer rapid growth but also volatility, political uncertainty and regulatory inefficiencies. Meticulous research and risk management are required to handle these challenges. Knowing each specific market’s characteristics is essential for maintaining the balance between risks and rewards in these unpredictable conditions.

Interested in exploring exotic markets? You can open an FXOpen account and find advanced trading opportunities.

This article represents the opinion of the Companies operating under the FXOpen brand only. It is not to be construed as an offer, solicitation, or recommendation with respect to products and services provided by the Companies operating under the FXOpen brand, nor is it to be considered financial advice.

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