The stock market has been volatile in 2010 and a large number of investors are beginning to move out of equities because they cannot take the ups and downs. It isn't easy to mitigate the volatility, but there is a way to lower the overall beta of a portfolio by adding alternative asset classes such as commodities and currencies.

IN PICTURES: Top 10 Forex Trading Rules

The world of currencies often referred to as the Forex market is the largest and most liquid market in the world. Most investors overlook the opportunities due to lack of knowledge about how to trade currencies and their benefits to diversification. However, since most major currencies can now be accessed through exchange-traded funds (ETFs), the world of FX trading is now open to everyone.

The Greenback
The U.S. dollar is typically the currency used to base the movement of other foreign currencies. For example the euro will be priced versus the U.S. dollar when quoted on the major financial websites and media outlets. The U.S. Dollar Index, which tracks the price of the greenback versus a basket of foreign currencies, broke a nearly decade long downtrend in early 2008 and has since been extremely volatile.

Weakness in the euro after the near blowup of Greece in early 2010 helped the U.S. Dollar Index rally to one-year highs before weakening again in the second half of 2010. There are two ETFs that allow investors to play the U.S. Dollar Index to the upside and downside. The PowerShares DB US Dollar Index Bullish ETF (NYSE:UUP) will move with the index. The PowerShares DB US Dollar Bearish ETF (NYSE:UDN) moves in the opposite direction of the index. For example if the U.S. Dollar Index falls by 10%, ideally UDN will rise 10%.

Euro, Yen and Pound
The euro took a major hit, falling 15% in the first six months of 2010 before attempting a rally. In June the euro was trading at the lowest level in over four years and over 25% lower than the all-time high in 2008. The Rydex CurrencyShares Euro ETF (NYSE:FXE) tracks the euro versus the U.S. dollar and if you were lucky enough to be short the euro in 2010 it was a great hedge against stock market weakness. (For more, see The Currency Market Information Edge.) Currently, FXE is down -8% on the year.

One of the best hedges for a weak US stock market has been the Japanese Yen, which can be tracked for investors through the Rydex CurrencyShares Japanese Yen ETF (NYSE:FXY). Throughout several times in the year, FXY was outperforming the SPDR S&P 500 ETF (NYSE:SPY) by as much as 15%. However, the difference has decreased recently where the year to date performance is now about equivalent.

A currency that has been out of favor for quite some time is the British pound, accessible through the Rydex CurrencyShares British Pound Sterling ETF (NYSE:FXB). The ETF began to fall in late 2008 and has yet to put together a sustainable rally off the lows. However, it may start to pick up if there will be a sustain rally in the euro, so it may be one to watch.

Emerging Market Currencies
The introduction of emerging market currency ETFs has brought on more investment opportunities, but they have yet to catch on. Investors have access to the Brazilian real, Chinese yuan and the Indian rupee to name a few. The Wisdom Tree Emerging Currency ETF (NYSE:CEW) invests in a basket of emerging market currencies including the yuan, rupee, real, Chilean peso, and South Korean won to name a few. In all the ETF invests in 12 emerging currencies. (For more, see Forex Currencies: Emerging Market Currencies.) CEW is currently up 4.35% on the year.

Diversification Made Easy
The introduction of currency ETFs have allowed the average investor the ability to diversify away from equities without having to open an FX account. Along with diversification, the currency ETFs also could help hedge against a market sell-off and even make money in tough economic times. (For related reading, see Forex Trading: Using The Big Picture.)

Use the Investopedia Stock Simulator to trade the stocks mentioned in this stock analysis, risk free!

Related Articles
  1. Mutual Funds & ETFs

    Top Three Transportation ETFs

    These three transportation funds attract the majority of sector volume.
  2. Stock Analysis

    5 Cheap Dividend Stocks for a Bear Market

    Here are five stocks that pay safe dividends and should be at least somewhat resilient to a bear market.
  3. Investing Basics

    Tops Tips for Trading ETFs

    A look at two different trading strategies for ETFs - one for investors and the other for active traders.
  4. Investing

    How to Win More by Losing Less in Today’s Markets

    The further you fall, the harder it is to climb back up. It’s a universal truth that is painfully apparent in the investing world.
  5. Fundamental Analysis

    Use Options Data To Predict Stock Market Direction

    Options market trading data can provide important insights about the direction of stocks and the overall market. Here’s how to track it.
  6. Stock Analysis

    2 Oil Stocks to Buy Right Now (PSX,TSO)

    Can these two oil stocks buck the trend?
  7. Investing News

    What Alcoa’s (AA) Breakup Means for Investors

    Alcoa plans to split into two companies. Is this a bullish catalyst for investors?
  8. Mutual Funds & ETFs

    Top 4 Investment Grade Corporate Bonds ETFs

    Discover detailed analysis and information about some of the top exchange-traded funds (ETFs) that offer exposure to the investment-grade corporate bond market.
  9. Stock Analysis

    Top 3 Stocks for the Coming Holiday Season

    If you want to buck the bear market trend by going long on consumer stocks, these three might be your best bets.
  10. Investing News

    Could a Rate Hike Send Stocks Higher?

    A rate hike would certainly alter the investment scene, but would it be for the better or worse?
  1. Can mutual funds invest in IPOs?

    Mutual funds can invest in initial public offerings (IPOS). However, most mutual funds have bylaws that prevent them from ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. How do dividends affect retained earnings?

    When a company issues a cash dividend to its shareholders, the retained earnings listed on the balance sheet are reduced ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. What is the difference between called-up share capital and paid-up share capital?

    The difference between called-up share capital and paid-up share capital is investors have already paid in full for paid-up ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. Why would a corporation issue convertible bonds?

    A convertible bond represents a hybrid security that has bond and equity features; this type of bond allows the conversion ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. Does index trading increase market vulnerability?

    The rise of index trading may increase the overall vulnerability of the stock market due to increased correlations between ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. What does a high turnover ratio signify for an investment fund?

    If an investment fund has a high turnover ratio, it indicates it replaces most or all of its holdings over a one-year period. ... Read Full Answer >>

You May Also Like

Trading Center
You are using adblocking software

Want access to all of Investopedia? Add us to your “whitelist”
so you'll never miss a feature!