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Pros: Is Russia the New Safe Haven?

Catherine Holahan of CNBC's "Fast Money"
Wednesday, 23 Feb 2011 | 12:11 PM ET

Is Russia a safer place to invest than Canada?

On Wednesday, a few of the "Fast Money" traders wagered that investors seeking sanctuary from volatility stemming from geopolitical unrest in the Middle East would look not to the Great White North, but to the former USSR.

“Russia is looking like the safe hands,” said EmergingMoney.com’s Tim Seymour. “I continue to watch that.”

While other emerging markets such as China and India have seen net outflows this year, investment in Russia has increased. Inflows to Russia have topped $1 billion year-to-date, according to data by EPFR Global, a firm that tracks funds.

Russia’s investment appeal lies in its strengthening economy and promise of government spending. The Russian government raised its 2011 gross domestic product growth estimate to 4.2 percent last month and many analysts expect that actual GDP growth could exceed that target. The Russian government plans to spend more than $500 billion on infrastructure in the next three years.

Russia is actively trying to improve its image among investors. In an interview published in Tuesday's The Wall Street Journal, Russian Energy Czar Igor Sechin emphasized the political stability in Russia and the appeal of the country to business.

“What is important for an investor?" Sechin said in a translated interview. "It’s important to have clear rules of the game. And they do exist.”

Meanwhile, Canada’s economy has some traders worried.

“I think the Canadian oil sands story is interesting… that it is so levered to the high cost of oil,” said Metropolitan Capital’s Karen Finerman.

Canada’s economy looks great as long as oil prices remain high, making it cost effective to keep extracting oil from Canada’s oil sands. But, should oil prices retreat, Canada swiftly loses some of its shine, cautioned the traders.

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