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Closed-End Funds Offer Emerging Asia at a Discount

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Global stock markets continue to push ahead to new all-time highs in many of the most commonly traded indices. In Asia specifically, stock market rallies have come largely as a result of policy actions like the unprecedented stimulus programs put in place by the Bank of Japan earlier this year. These policy strategies are indicative of the broader support central banks have shown in propping the manufacturing sector and regional export markets.

But the elevated stock market valuations seen now can make it difficult for investors looking to gain regional exposure at inexpensive prices. For these reasons, some alternative asset instruments should be considered when looking for long-term value in emerging Asia, as there are still ways to benefit from the immense growth potential in the region.

Exploring Alternatives

One alternative option can be found in closed-end funds, which exhibit some marked differences from more commonly known mutual funds. Specifically, closed-end funds offer a fixed number of available shares. This creates a scenario where share values are tied more closely to the supply and demand visible in the markets, while other investment vehicles tend to be priced based on their net asset values.

This difference is important for investors looking for long-term value opportunities, as many closed-end funds allow investors to buy-in at substantial discounts relative to NAV. With stock markets pushing to extreme highs, closed-end funds provide one of the best options currently available because there's a smaller possibility for downside correction when compared to the benchmark indices.

Growth Positives in Emerging Asia

Asian economies present some well-documented growth opportunities when compared to their more developed counterparts in the West. For 2013, Asian economies are expected to expand at a rate of nearly 6%, which is much higher than the 2.1% projections seen for the U.S., and the stalling 0.2% growth rates seen for the eurozone.

As a partial reflection of this, Asian benchmarks have posted strong rallies so far this year. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index (one of the broadest measures of the region) has seen gains of 11% year-to-date, supported largely by improvements in importing countries (such as the U.S.) and stimulus measures from central banks. Debt levels in emerging Asia are much lower than what is seen in the West, and the region's total contribution to global GDP is expected to grow from the 27% levels seen now to 49% by 2050. When we combine these supportive external factors with the strong fundamentals present in Asian economies, a highly bullish scenario emerges.
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