NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Three ETFs that provide exposure to Southeast Asian countries, iShares MSCI Malaysia Index ( EWM), MarketVectors Indonesia ( IDX), and iShares Thailand MSCI Investable Market Index ( THD), are all approaching their 52-week highs, drawing attention to the funds' impressive track records over the past year.The leader of this group, IDX, is up by about 60% in the past year. Although impressive, THD and EWM lag slightly behind with gains of roughly 45% and 30% in the past year. Each of the funds endured a difficult month of May, as did markets elsewhere in the world, but after those losses, IDX and EWM snapped back, approaching their recent highs. While U.S. markets were probing new lows in June, these ETFs were already in a resumed uptrend. THD is the weakest of the three right now -- though still within 5% of its highs for the year -- because political instability has weighed on shares. Political turmoil caused Thai stocks to drop in early April and continue lower as prolonged political demonstrations turned violent in the heart of downtown Bangkok. However, the political situation did not deteriorate and THD actually held up better than most ETFs during the May sell-off. Prior to the drop-off in Thai markets, shares had been moving steadily higher, helped by attractive valuations that lured foreign investors. Currently, the political situation has stabilized, but the ruling party faces a court challenge to its very existence because opponents have filed a court case seeking to ban the party. THD remains steady though, as investors focus on the value in the Thai market. Looking at these funds in comparison to other Asian markets also shows the extraordinary way in which they have performed over the previous three months. iShares MSCI All Country Asia ex Japan ( AAJX), a fund with 27% of assets in China, 18% in South Korea, 14% in Taiwan, 11% in India, and 11% in Hong Kong, has fallen 6.8% in the past three months, but IDX, EWM and THD have returned 1.4%, - 0.55% and 4.7%. Investors have reason to continue to be bullish on THD, EWM, and IDX, in light of the recent decision by the Chinese government to allow the yuan to appreciate against the U.S. dollar.
A stronger yuan means more buying power for China when trading with its regional neighbors such as Thailand, Indonesia, and Malaysia., and it also makes their exports to the U.S. more competitive with China. It also means that these countries may not have to compete as rigorously on a domestic basis with Chinese imports, which will now be somewhat more expensive. Finally, as I argued while making the case for investing in the Chinese consumer sector , rising wages in China will also make the surrounding Asian economies more competitive. Another important advantage for this group of funds is that, although debt concerns in the U.S. and Europe are a problem in terms of decreasing business from those regions, there is little risk that contagion will create domestic havoc for these countries. After enduring the Asian Financial Crisis of the late 90's, Asian governments have learned their lesson and have kept their fiscal houses in comparatively good order, fortifying their balance sheets. Investors looking for an aggressive international play in Asia should consider these three funds, but should realize that these funds do get volatile and that gains can disappear just as quickly as they arrived in the short-run. For now though, their markets appear capable of snapping back fairly quickly from heavy losses generated by concerns over debt and growth in developed markets. As long as global markets don't derail the trend, these funds should climb to new 52-week highs. If there is a dip downward, which is not out of the question since the funds have spent the past week or so trying to achieve new highs, shares can be bought as long as there's no indigenous reason for the decline. Investors who want more information on these ETFs can see some of my previous articles, as this story is not a new one. Check out Thailand ETF Better Bet Than France ETF ; ETFs For a Rising Yuan ; Indonesia ETF Gains Attention as Nation Grows . -- Written by Don Dion in Williamstown, Mass.