Islamic funds invested in the Gulf Cooperation Council (or GCC, which includes several Arab states on the Persian Gulf) sharply improved their position in Lipper rankings, according to a recent report.
These funds were "performing at the same pace as those invested in Asian emerging markets, thanks to the positive returns witnessed in the seven GCC stock markets during first quarter 2010," Lipper analyst Dunny P Moonesawmy said in the report.
In terms of the number of funds, Southeast Asia dominated the Islamic market with a 45% market share, but in terms of assets under management the Gulf led the ranking with 59% market share, Lipper says.
Among significant losers, equity funds and money market funds investing in Europe lost 0.13% and 5.59%, respectively, for Q1 2010, due to the depreciation of the Euro against the U.S. dollar (-5.69%).
All Islamic asset types began 2010 in the black and gained on average 5.48% during first quarter 2010, contrasting with the minus 2.95% recorded during the first quarter of 2009.
Equity and mixed-asset funds were the best performers, posting 6.57% and 6.03%, respectively, in U.S.-dollar terms.
Islamic equity funds, which invest in accordance with Islamic principles, ranged in performance from a boost of 28% for Russia funds to -3% for gold/precious metals.
Funds with a focus on Malaysia rose an average of 17.5% in the first three months of the year, those focusing on Saudi Arabia and Malaysia ticked up more than 10% and Indonesia funds improved an average of 9.5%.
Some Islamic-principle funds or those governed strictly by Islamic laws, Shariah funds, for U.S. investors include those offered by Amana Funds.
The Amana Income Fund (AMANX), for instance, has a 10-year average of 6.23% gains and a five-year average of 8.44% gains. Year to date, the fund is up 3.14%.