Bank of America Merrill Lynch said investors should buy emerging market bonds and equities as the so-called BRIC nations of Brazil, Russia, India and China post the biggest improvement in growth this year.

“What we’re saying about emerging markets is that the BRICs are back,” David Hauner, head of fixed-income strategy for emerging Europe, the Middle East and Africa, told reporters in Abu Dhabi today. “Last year a lot of people were saying that the BRICs are finished and of course we had disappointing growth in all of them. Now this year we see a recovery.”

Emerging markets are expected to record economic growth of 5.2 percent this year compared to 4.9 percent last year. The best growth will come from the BRICs as concern over China’s political transition, Indian currency weakness, and currency appreciation in Brazil wane, Hauner said. The best fixed-income opportunities this year will be in Asia because of its superior growth and links to the U.S. dollar, Hauner said.

“People are getting out of bonds and buying more emerging markets, more high yield but they are selling some Treasuries, we think this makes a lot of sense,” Hauner said. “Our own global asset allocation suggests that you should be overweight equities, overweight emerging market bonds, should be overweight high yield.”

The BRIC countries grew at an average annual pace of 6.6 percent from 2001 to 2010, almost twice as fast as the global economy, according to the International Monetary Fund. China is now the world’s second-largest economy in dollar terms, while Brazil is No. 7, Russia is No. 9 and India is No. 10, IMF estimates for 2012 showed in October.

Lost Interest

The MSCI BRIC stock index has gained 1.9 percent in 2013, compared with a 0.9 percent increase in the broader MSCI Emerging Markets Index.

Jim O’Neill, the main who coined the BRIC moniker, said last month that investors seem to have lost interest in the countries. O’Neill, who is stepping down as chairman of Goldman Sachs Asset Management this year, introduced the BRIC concept in a 2001 research report predicting that the nations’ share of the global economy would grow.

The term BRICs appeared in the fewest news stories in January since November 2008, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. BRIC searches on Google Inc.’s engine also fell to a seven-year low in December.