Quick, which nation reported the strongest economic growth last year?
I’ll give you a hint. The country is rich in minerals and agricultural products, is situated squarely in the Pacific’s volcanic Ring of Fire, and has an incredibly diverse population that speaks 852 different languages.
I’m talking about Papua New Guinea. While most of its citizens live in rural farming communities, this island nation has been outrunning the world’s economic powerhouses. Some of the credit belongs to an influx of foreign capital. Exxon Mobil Corporation (XOM), Total SA (ADR) (TOT), and Royal Dutch Shell plc (ADR) (RDS) are just a few of the parties vying for a piece of the country’s rich oil and gas resources.
Papua New Guinea is also blessed with valuable metals such as gold, copper, nickel and cobalt. High in the rainforests of Enga Province, Barrick Gold Corporation USA (ABX) pulled 493,000 ounces of the yellow metal from the Porgera Mine last year, and this is just one of sixteen large-scale mining projects in the country.
Elsewhere, others are busy growing cocoa, coconut, and palm oil, the country’s top agricultural exports. Thanks to all these resources, the country enjoyed robust GDP growth last year that has been estimated at anywere from 8.5% to 19.4%. That easily ranks as one of the world’s fastest-growing economies.
The United States’ GDP growth, by contrast, plodded along around 2% for most of 2015 — and Europe was even weaker.
[More from StreetAuthority.com: Why I’m Still Excited About This Unique Corner Of The Real Estate Market ]
But it’s not just Papua New Guinea. The entire region of Southeast Asia is home to many of the most vibrant economies. Indonesia has been welcomed into the G-20 as one of the world’s largest and wealthiest industrialized nations. Thailand has become a major hub of auto and electronics manufacturing and has a thriving service sector (particularly banking and tourism).
According to The Wall Street Journal, both countries outpaced growth expectations last quarter thanks to government infrastructure spending and fiscal stimulus aimed at boosting commercial bank lending.
And even they can’t keep pace with another neighbor, Myanmar. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) in April released its World Economic Outlook for 2016, and Myanmar stands at the very top of the list with projected GDP growth of 8.6%. That’s about three to four times faster than most developed countries around the globe.
Laos and Cambodia are close behind, ranking as No. 5 and No. 7, with healthy forecasted economic expansion of 7.4% and 7.0%, respectively.
Clearly, Southeast Asia is firing on all economic cylinders right now. And that’s with China’s juggernaut economy having slowed a step or two (all of these countries are in China’s gravitational pull).
This powerful macro tailwind is translating into robust gains for stocks trading in Jakarta, Bangkok and other exchanges in this part of the world.
[More from StreetAuthority.com: Discovered: A Market Of ‘Hidden High Yielders’ ]
Indonesia’s benchmark JSX Composite has rallied 31.5% year-to-date, while Thailand’s SET has climbed 8.18%. The broader Dow Jones Asia/Pacific Total Stock Market Index is up nearly 8% over the past 12 months.
Now, my primary goal is to find the best income investments possible for readers of my premium investment advisory, High-Yield Investing. So with this in mind, I came up with a list of funds with broad exposure to this region that pay lofty dividend yields. If you are seeking some investment exposure to this exciting part of the world, then here are a few options to consider.
I’m not suggesting you call up your broker and ask them to transfer a big chunk of assets to Asian stocks and bonds. Please don’t. But it’s a good idea to allocate a portion of your portfolio overseas — maybe anywhere from 5% to 25% depending on your personal financial situation.
And it might be wise for that international component to have some representation from these fast-growing markets — which happen to be home to many high yielders.
On the fixed income side, I’ve long been a fan of Aberdeen Asia Pacific (FAX). I’ve also got my eye on Voya Asia Pacific (IAE), which invests in a basket of more than 100 dividend-paying stocks from China, Korea, India, Taiwan, Malaysia, Thailand and other countries. The portfolio provides broad exposure to every major market sector, most prominently financials, technology, industrials, and energy.
The fund makes regular quarterly distributions of $0.255 per share, though I should note that return of capital accounts for a large percentage of the payout (which is common with managed distribution policies). The shares are currently being offered at an attractive 12.7% discount to net asset value — twice the 5-year average of 6.1%
With economic reforms, government stimulus efforts and rising consumer spending, my High-Yield Investing readers and I will be watching APB and other Asia/Pacific funds closely in the months ahead.
P.S. While you should definitely research these funds further, I’d also encourage you to check out my top income stock recommendations in High-Yield Investing. At $39 for a one-year subscription, you won’t find a more high-quality, cost-effective way of finding some of the absolute best high-yielders the market has to offer. Go here to learn more.
StreetAuthority’s mission is to help individual investors earn above-average profits by providing a source of independent, unbiased — and most of all, profitable — investing ideas. Unlike traditional publishers, StreetAuthority doesn’t simply regurgitate the latest stock market news. Instead, we provide in-depth research, plus specific investment ideas and immediate action to take based on the latest market events. Visit us at StreetAuthority.com.