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Where to Find Out More about International Investing Online

But wait a second. Before you sign up for the international stock thing, you need to know the downside of being fully diversified. Just as foreign stocks can beat U.S. stocks, sometimes, the opposite also can happen. It’s not unusual for foreign stocks to fall behind or lag domestic stocks in some years.

During times when foreign stocks are underperforming, they can drag down your overall portfolio. This is especially hard to take in years in which the major U.S. stock indexes like the S&P 500 are doing well. During those times, though, you’ll have to resist the temptation to dump your foreign stocks.

That’s why it’s best to use online resources to fully understand international investing. The following websites provide helpful global business and investing insights:

  • Yahoo! Finance: Yes, Yahoo! Finance has that international thing going, too. This part of the site lets you closely monitor daily movements of most international stock markets. You can check out daily closing values of major market indexes around the globe, including the Americas, Asia/Pacific, Europe, and Africa/Middle East. Just click the region you’re interested in, using the tabs under the Major World Indices heading.

    In this area of Yahoo! Finance, you can see the name of different countries’ stock market indexes and find out how much they rose or fell that day. To track long-term performances of these indexes, it takes only a couple of clicks.

    Just click the index’s symbol in the list, such as ^MERV for the Buenos Aires’ MerVal index. Next, click the Historical Prices link on the left side of the page, under the Quotes heading. The index’s closing values going back for years pops up on your screen.

  • Historicalstatistics.org: This site houses a massive directory of market and economic resources for international investors. Just click the name of the country you’re interested in on the left side of the page to call up a giant list of links to other websites with data and information about that country.

  • Economist Intelligence Unit: A research firm affiliated with The Economist business magazine, the Economist Intelligence Unit provides data and information about the economies of more than 200 countries. You must pay for most of the content on the site, but you can get some free insights from articles featured on the first page of the site.

    You can see summaries of international business studies the Economist Intelligence Unit has done; click on some to read the findings.

  • International Monetary Fund: The IMF offers detailed economic data about countries and provides comprehensive global data and statistics.

  • The World Bank: The World Bank provides in-depth information not only about countries’ economies, but also their political and social environments. You also find important considerations for investors.

  • Securities and Exchange Commission: The SEC provides a complete guide to international investing that outlines the risks and rewards.

  • Global Financial Data: This is an invaluable source if you’re looking for very long-term historical data for investments in any country you can imagine, but you must pay for most of the data.

  • Bloomberg: Bloomberg doesn’t skimp when it comes to covering economic developments around the world. You can find numerous stories explaining how global market events can affect stock markets around the world, and Bloomberg’s World Indexes section lists daily performances of the world’s major indexes.

  • Reuters: The venerable news service has a section of its website dedicated to international news and provides international markets news.

  • MSN Money: This corner of the MSN Money site shows you how major international stock markets and indexes are performing.

  • Economagic: Economagic collects economic data on most major countries. Economagic is also a helpful site when you’re looking for information about the U.S. economy.

If you’re relatively new to international markets, you might not be familiar with all the market indexes that track foreign markets. The following table gives you an idea of some of the more popular foreign markets as well as the name of the index used to track them.

Guide to Some Foreign Stock Markets
Foreign Market and/or Index Tracks Stocks In
Bovespa Brazil
CAC 40 France
DAX Germany
FTSE 100 United Kingdom
Hang Seng Hong Kong
MerVal Buenos Aires
Madrid General Spain
Nikkei 225 Japan
Seoul Composite Korea
Shanghai Composite China
S&P/TSX Composite Canada
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