Newton Distributors Asia has noticed growing demand for information about European markets since the Asian financial crisis began. 'Many people are unsure when Asian markets are going to bottom out so they are wondering where else to invest,' Connie Fung, Newton's managing director, said. 'Europe is in another bull market this year and is attracting attention.' Newton's UGF Continental European Equity Fund has returned 65 per cent in US dollar terms over the 12 months to May 1, 163 per cent over three years and 236 per cent over five years. Newton had been advising investors to take a global approach rather than merely diversifying within Asia, Ms Fung said. 'People told us we were crazy to launch our European fund in Asia but, if you had invested in it over the past few years, you would be showing a good return,' she said. The decision to push the European fund in the SAR has turned out to be an excellent one, given the recent performance of Asian markets. However, Ms Fung said it was chosen largely for competitive reasons. 'When we entered the Hong Kong industry, it was so competitive. We didn't want to promote something Hong Kong already had a lot of,' she said. 'I noticed our European fund had performed very well and thought, 'Why not promote Europe?' ' Although many local investors had been to Europe on holidays, there was a big gap in their knowledge of individual markets, she said. The launch of the Euro had helped raise awareness in Hong Kong of the opportunities there. Ms Fung said the European fund's outperformance of market indices had been achieved as a result of good stock picking based on research from Newton's highly- experienced analysts.