The MSCI AC Asia ex Japan (AxJ) Index fell by 2.6% in USD terms in December, as concerns about slowing global growth, tightening monetary policy and rising geopolitical tensions continued to drive sentiment.
The S&P/ASX 200 Accumulation Index returned -0.1% during December.
The Australian bond market (as measured by the Bloomberg AusBond Composite 0+ Yr Index) was up 1.50% over the month, outperforming Australian equities which fell 0.12%.
The word “volatility” crops up a lot when commentators try to explain price movements in financial markets.
While New Zealand markets have had a rather interesting and more volatile time, the main drivers of the economy remain sound.
The Japanese equity market rose in November, with the TOPIX (w/dividends) climbing 1.30% on-month and the Nikkei 225 (w/dividends) rising 1.98%. Equities rose in the early part of the month on strong US economic indicators and easing political uncertainty after the US midterm election results largely matched expectations.
US Treasuries (USTs) registered gains in November, while yields fell along with faltering US equities.
The macroeconomic backdrop for Asian countries should remain broadly neutral for credit performance in 2019. GDP growth is expected to moderate across the key economies, although we don’t expect any hard landing scenarios to materialize.
One thing is for sure, 2019 will not be a dull year. We expect more headlines and drama on trade but would pay more attention to underlying policy direction at both the Federal Reserve and Chinese authorities, as bigger markers for improved fortunes across Asian markets.
The potential hangover from the monetary binge of QE continues to weigh on global equity markets as we head towards 2019. The turning of the calendar will do little to change this.