THE Mexican currency crisis at the end of last year caused a sharp drop in confidence in emerging markets but the sector still offers great investment opportunities. Timing, however, is everything. Since equity markets started in Latin America, they could have been expected to decline but, last year, they were among the best performers in US dollar terms. Brazil's market rose 59.8 per cent on the Morgan Stanley Capital Index. Peru ended the year up 50.1 per cent and Chile was up 48 per cent. Mexico was a dog performer, as one would expect given the currency disaster, losing 42.4 per cent of every US dollar invested there at the start of the year. Among other emerging markets, Turkey fell 49.2 per cent for the year and Poland fell 47.4 per cent. In Asia, India rose 15.6 per cent, Korea by 21.4 per cent and Taiwan gained 18.6 per cent. Indonesia fell 23.4 per cent, Malaysia was down 19.6 per cent, the Philippines fell 2.5 per cent and Thailand dropped 17.6 per cent. Up to January 26, Brazil had fallen 14 per cent; Mexico had dropped another 25.2 per cent. Asian markets were off sharply. India was down 31.5 per cent in the month, Korea 12.6 per cent, Pakistan had fallen 34.4 per cent, Taiwan was off 30.11 per cent and Thailand was off 6.1 per cent.