Looking for portfolio protection? Here are two things to buy right now

  • Some strategists recommend looking to equities outside the U.S. amid growing political risk.
  • Additionally, bitcoin may look attractive as a sort of safe-haven trade.
  • Stocks were trading modestly higher on Thursday after the biggest market selloff of the year.

As stocks find a bit of relief after the market's worst day of the year, investors may be looking for new bets in a market with growing uncertainty. Looking to international markets and finding refuge in bitcoin are two suggestions strategists are making.

Investments outside the U.S. appear attractive to Mark Tepper, president of Strategic Wealth Partners.

"It's pretty obvious that political risk is shifting toward the U.S.," Tepper said Wednesday on CNBC's "Trading Nation." "Global growth is so much stronger than U.S. growth, and if you look at the S&P 500, globally oriented companies — which are those companies getting at least 50 percent of their revenues from overseas — are completely crushing the domestically oriented companies this earnings season."

Most investors are still overweight U.S. stocks, Tepper said, as U.S. markets have outperformed international markets for years. But he sees a reversal afoot, which gives him confidence in investing abroad even as U.S. firms' first-quarter earnings have been strong. Furthermore, geopolitical risk appears to be fading on the back of French and South Korean election outcomes that were seen as positive for the markets.

Indeed, a popular exchange-traded fund that tracks large- and mid-cap equities in developed markets outside the U.S. and Canada, the iShares MSCI EAFE ETF, has advanced 13 percent so far this year. The S&P 500 fund has advanced a bit less than 6 percent in the same time. Notably, the MSCI Asia Pacific index has gained 20 percent year to date; Taiwan's benchmark index has gained 22 percent, and European markets have broadly outperformed the S&P 500.

Emerging markets, too, are rallying this year. One ETF that tracks emerging markets, the EEM, is up 15 percent year to date. However, the fund fell nearly 2 percent in Thursday trading as Brazilian equities tumbled on the back of emerging political concerns in the country.

In a different kind of hedge, Boris Schlossberg of BK Asset Management suggests turning to digital currency bitcoin. Bitcoin is the "new gold," he said, and appears to be a good hedge going forward.

Schlossberg draws parallels between the volatile digital currency and the precious metal widely considered a safe haven.

Even after bitcoin's 92 percent rally so far this year, "it's holding at very steady highs right now, and typically when you have a big move — whether it be any kind of instrument — generally you're going to have some continuation," he said Wednesday in an interview on CNBC's "Trading Nation."

"It's clearly signaling more demand. So I like that as a hedge play going forward," Schlossberg added.

Bitcoin, prone to frequent fickle swings in value given its unregulated nature, has soared to all-time highs this year as the currency has become more widely accepted as a form of payment. Still, the Securities and Exchange Commission earlier this year rejected a proposed bitcoin exchange-traded fund.

Stocks were trading modestly higher on Thursday after the year's biggest sell-off on Wednesday.


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Trading Nation is a multimedia financial news program that shows investors and traders how to use the news of the day to their advantage. This is where experts from across the financial world – including macro strategists, technical analysts, stock-pickers, and traders who specialize in options, currencies, and fixed income – come together to find the best ways to capitalize on recent developments in the market. Trading Nation: Where headlines become opportunities.

Michael Santoli

Michael Santoli joined CNBC in October 2015 as a Senior Markets Commentator, based at the network's Global Headquarters in Englewood Cliffs, N.J.  Santoli brings his extensive markets expertise to CNBC's Business Day programming, with a regular appearance on CNBC's Closing Bell (M-F, 3PM-5PM ET). In addition, he contributes to CNBC and CNBC PRO, writing regular articles and creating original digital videos.

Previously, Santoli was a Senior Columnist at Yahoo Finance, where he wrote analysis and commentary on the stock market, corporate news and the economy. He also appeared on Yahoo Finance video programs, where he offered insights on the most important business stories of the day, and was a regular contributor to CNBC and other networks.

Follow Michael Santoli on Twitter @michaelsantoli

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