NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- One of the hottest performers this year is Nile Pan Africa Fund (NAFAX), which has returned 26.7% and outpaced the S&P 500 by 14 percentage points, according to Morningstar. Part of the reason for the strong showing is that many countries in Africa and the Middle East are booming.
Boosted by high oil prices, petroleum producers are enjoying some of the best results. Last year Saudia Arabia's economy grew 6.8%. In addition, consumer companies are achieving record sales as millions of people leave impoverished villages and join the urban middle class. In 2011, Sub-Saharan Africa grew 4.9%, and the World Banks says that the region should grow 5.3% this year.
Funds with sizable stakes in the fastest-growing countries include Harding Loevner Frontier Emerging Markets (HLMOX), T. Rowe Price Africa & Middle East (TRAMX), and Guggenheim Frontier Markets (FRN). All the funds are young and volatile, so they are only appropriate for aggressive investors. But it is well worth monitoring the portfolios because markets in Africa and the Middle East could grow steadily for years to come.
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