LONDON, Feb 23 (Reuters) - The assets of hedge funds investing in emerging markets have surged above the $200 billion mark for the first time, rising by $9.3 billion in 2016, according to industry tracker Hedge Fund Research (HFR) said on Thursday.
The Chicago-based group said the growth had been led by hedge funds invested in Russia and Latin America, with total capital invested in Latam-focused hedge funds increasing by $6.3 billion in 2016 and the assets of Russia and Eastern Europe-focused funds up $2.5 billion.
"Strong performance gains, specially focused on Latin America and Russia/Eastern Europe, contributed to this growth as investors positioned for the impact of divergent monetary policies in US and Europe on emerging markets," HFR said.
HFR's index of emerging market returns rose 7 percent in 2016 and got off to a strong 2017 start with January gains of 3.2 percent, the group said. The Latin America sub-index added 27.2 percent last year, it added.
The laggard last year was Asia, with total capital invested in regional hedge funds declining by $4.4 billion, according to the report.
Total emerging market hedge fund assets have more than doubled from 2009 levels but they remain a small part of the global hedge fund industry's $3 trillion assets.
(Reporting by Sujata Rao; Editing by Gareth Jones) ((firstname.lastname@example.org; 44 20 7542 6176 ; Reuters Messaging: email@example.com))