U.S. companies increased their mergers and acquisitions in emerging and high-growth markets in the first half of the year, but pulled back in other markets, according to a new study by KPMG International.

KPMG found a slowdown in the overall volume of M&A deals in more developed markets in the first half of 2013. U.S. companies remained the most popular targets for emerging and high-growth market companies. 

The semi-annual KPMG study, which tracks completed deals in which an acquirer took at least a 5 percent shareholding interest, found that U.S. companies completed 116 emerging and high-growth market acquisitions in the first half of 2013, up from 110 in the second half of 2012.

The most popular geographic targets for U.S. companies in the first half of 2013 were Brazil (25), India (18), South American countries excluding Brazil (15), South and East Asia (15), and Central America and Caribbean (14). South and East Asia (88) and China (69) were the most popular targets for overall deals in what KPMG refers to as “developed-to-high-growth (D2H) market.”

U.S. companies remained the most popular targets for emerging and high-growth market companies with 31 acquisitions made in the United States in the first half of 2013, down from the 52 deals completed in the second half of 2012. South and East Asia (9) and India (7) accounted for the majority of acquisitions made in the United States in the first half of 2013. 

“U.S. companies are exhibiting higher levels of confidence domestically and we’re starting to see this translate into increased acquisition activity in emerging markets,” said Mark Barnes, national leader of KPMG’s U.S. High Growth Markets practice, in a statement. “But the United States was one of only a few developed economies to have an uptick in D2H deals, as overall D2H deal activity was at its lowest since 2009.”

Deal volume in the D2H market dropped 13 percent, according to KPMG, from 607 in the second half of 2012 to 526 in the first half of 2013. In addition, the volume of M&A deals in what KPMG calls the “high-growth-to-developed (H2D) market” has also dropped, by 26 percent, from 228 acquisitions during the second half of 2012 to 169 in the first half of 2013. 

“H2D transactions fell to their lowest level since 2005,” said Barnes. “Many high-growth market companies are taking a ‘wait and see’ approach before investing in developed economies because many of them are experiencing varying degrees of economic uncertainty. However, the United States continues to remain the developed market of choice for H2D deals due to its many positive attributes including market size, plentiful resources, and skilled workforce,” added Barnes.

Overall, South and East Asia (31) and China (29) were the top acquirers in H2D deals in the first half of 2013.

“Although high-growth-to-developed market transactions have declined over last year, the United States continues to hold attractive investment options for companies around the globe looking to accelerate growth by making acquisitions that expand their geographic footprint,” said KPMG Corporate Finance LLC head Phil Isom. “In terms of the uptick in developed-to-high-growth market deals, U.S. market conditions, highlighted by relatively easy access to capital, elevated cash levels on corporate balance sheets, and low interest rates, have resulted in an increased capacity for U.S. companies to do deals.”

In the first half of 2013, KPMG found that there were a total of 110 deals in what it calls the “high-growth-to-high-growth (H2H) market,” down from 131 in the second half of 2012. The Commonwealth of Independent States was the most popular regional target, registering 26 inbound deals, according to KPMG. Russia was the leading emerging-market acquirer, with 35 deals.