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Investing: Latin America bucks dour trends

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Behind Latin America's good showing, many experts cite global demand for commodities, such as oil, iron ore, and other metals that Latin America supplies. Such trends added punch to an overall economically brightening picture in the region. "Latin America is experiencing its fifth year of steady expansion. The region's economy has been growing, creating more employment [and] rising incomes, but generally lower inflation, which means greater purchasing power for Latin Americans," sums up Alfredo Coutino, senior economist for Latin America at Moody's Economy.com.

All the while, the region's trade expansion beyond the United States market now helps limit any impact of a US recession, he holds.

Meanwhile, the region continues to offer attractions for socially responsible investors, some experts say. Some companies there "have themes in their sector or industry that play well in sustainability," says Lauren Compere, shareholder advocacy director at Boston Common Asset Management. But she would avoid "polluters" or "companies that create degradation in the mining or extracting process."

Despite Latin America's growth, signs suggest many international investors aren't pouring money into Latin America right now, chasing after good returns. This year through May 28, US-registered Latin American mutual funds had net inflows of $362 million, according to data of AMG Data Services. Although that exceeds the net $309 million into this category in the first five months of 2007, it's almost $1 billion less than the net inflows during the same period in 2006.

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