● Fourth, you don't have to scramble to do anything just to catch this relief rally. And you certainly shouldn't buy something at a price that seems uncomfortably high in an effort to catch the rally. Remember 2012: If you miss this rally, another will be along soon. Given the coming debt-ceiling negotiations and the next round in the euro crisis, I don't think we'll lack for volatility in 2013. 

● Fifth, consider the possibility that the U.S. financial markets aren't going to be the greatest place to be in the first half of the year. Wall Street figures that the fiscal cliff uncertainty and then the deal will take economic growth in the first quarter of 2013 down to a 1% rate from 3.1% in the third quarter of 2012. The biggest specific dent to growth comes from the expiration of a 2-percentage-point cut in Social Security payroll taxes. (The rate has returned to 6.2% from 4.2%.) That's certainly better than sending the U.S. economy into recession, and Wall Street economists do expect growth to pick up in the second half of the year, but the political follies of Washington have hurt the economy.

● Sixth, in the weeks before the fiscal cliff deal. Japan (on potential government stimulus) and China (and other emerging markets linked to China's economy) showed signs of being able to move up even when the U.S. market had stalled on fear. In the first half of 2013, I think that's again a good possibility as long as the battle over the U.S. debt ceiling doesn't threaten to cause a global financial meltdown. (A big mess is fine; Armageddon is not.) I think adding to your weighting in China, Brazil, Turkey and Korea makes sense for the first half of 2013. I'd especially look for stocks that will take advantage of domestic growth in those economies.

● Seventh, the challenge, once you start talking about domestic growth in emerging markets, is that most of the big, well-known and highly liquid stocks on those markets are exporters or commodity plays. Everybody knows Brazil's Vale and Petrobras (PBR). But few investors know Kroton Educacional (trading as KROT3.BZ in Brazil) or Natura Cosméticos (trading as NATU3.BZ), even though in the past year you would have much preferred to own Natura (up 68%) over Vale (up 5.9%). And it sure doesn't help that many emerging-market, domestic-oriented companies trade only in national markets rather than as ADRs in New York. (Kroton and Natura trade only in São Paulo.) To get domestic emerging-market exposure, you have to cast a wide net that includes New York-traded ADRs such as China's Home Inns & Hotels Management (HMIN), Argentina and Brazil's Arcos Dorados (ARCO), and Brazil's Itaú Unibanco (ITUB); relatively liquid (72,420 shares daily volume) New York OTC-traded stocks, such as China's Tencent (TCEHY) and Japan's owner of the ubiquitous Asian Seven-Eleven chain Seven & I (SVNDY), or developed economy companies with big emerging-market revenue such as Johnson Controls (JCI) or IMAX (IMAX). Yes, that IMAX. About 40% of the company's order book for new IMAX theaters is in China. (Home Inns and Hotels Management & Johnson Controls are members of my Jubak's Picks portfolio.)

If you've read this and think it sounds like I think 2013 is going to be as volatile as 2012, you're absolutely right -- at least for the first half of the year. After that, I wouldn't mind some good ol'-fashioned boredom. You know, the kind where markets grind upward so steadily that you don't even know you've made good money until the end of the year.

But I'm not holding my breath.

Updates to Jubak's Picks

These recent blog posts contain updates to the stocks in Jubak's market-beating portfolios:

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At the time of publication, Jim Jubak did not own or control shares of any company mentioned in this post in his personal portfolio. The mutual fund he manages, Jubak Global Equity Fund (JUBAX), may or may not now own positions in any stock mentioned in this post. The fund did own shares of Arcos Dorados, Home Inns & Hotels Management, Johnson Controls, Kroton Educacional, Natura Cosméticos, Seven & I, and Tencent Holdings as of the end of September. Find a full list of the stocks in the fund as of the end of September on the Jubak Asset Management website.

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Jim Jubak's column has run on MSN Money since 1997. He is the author of the book "The Jubak Picks," based on his market-beating Jubak's Picks portfolio; the writer of the Jubak's Picks blog; and the senior markets editor at MoneyShow.com. Get a free 60-day trial subscription to JAM, his premium investment letter, by using this code: MSN60 when you register at the Jubak Asset Management website.

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