Asia-Pacific

Investment Insights by our experts and thought leaders

"Thank goodness the Olympics burden is over!"

This is the likely phrase one will often hear in a few weeks, especially among equity investors and Japan’s political leadership. Of course, there are currently very few people in Japan who are very enthusiastic about holding the Olympics and virtually everyone would agree that it is a burden, but only the International Olympic Committee (IOC) can cancel an Olympics.

Asian Equity Monthly - June 2021

Asian stocks edged lower in June, partly weighed down by a recent spike in COVID-19 cases in the region. Lingering worries about rising inflation and fears of a faster-than-expected tapering of the US Federal Reserve’s quantitative easing programme also dampened sentiment.

Reaping big rewards in Asian small caps

Grace Yan, a Senior Portfolio Manager and a member of the Nikko AM Asian Equity Team, talks about the underlying reasons behind her recent success in winning Citywire Asia’s Best Fund Manager award and her passion about uncovering hidden gems in the Asian small-cap equity arena.

Asian Equity Monthly - May 2021

Supported by optimism about the region’s ongoing economic recovery, Asian stocks delivered decent gains in May, shrugging off concerns about a spike in COVID-19 cases in several Asian countries and persistent worries about inflation.

Asian Fixed Income Monthly - May 2021

US Treasury (UST) yields traded in a relatively narrow range in May. Inflation fears resurfaced, prompted by rising commodity prices and a marked increase in headline consumer and producer price indices in the US.

Are rising yields a concern for Asian REITs?

We believe that Asian REITs will continue to perform well while the economic recovery in Asia and the rest of the world remains strong and as long as the rise in bond yields do not become excessive.

While the Japanese equity market managed to strongly rebound in 2020 after a sharp fall at the start of the pandemic, it has lagged its peers in 2021 amid the country’s struggle to contain COVID-19 and its slow rollout of vaccinations.

Asian Equity Monthly – April 2021

Asian stocks turned in decent gains in April on optimism about the region’s economic recovery, especially after China and several other Asian countries reported better-than-expected 1Q21 GDP growth. The MSCI AC Asia ex Japan Index gained 2.5% in US dollar (USD) terms over the month.

Asian Fixed Income Monthly - April 2021

US Treasury (UST) yields stabilised in April. Yields came off despite domestic data confirming that the US economy had gained momentum, and inflation numbers that were above market expectations. The Federal Open Market Committee statement announced no new changes to the direction of monetary policy but offered a more upbeat tone on the outlook.

Net zero carbon: Is it all just hot air?

"Nowadays people know the price of everything and the value of nothing", quipped Oscar Wilde.

Japan Equity Monthly - April 2021

We gauge Japan’s slow vaccine rollout from an economic perspective and assess the shift in work styles that occurred during the pandemic and its potential impact on real estate prices.

The case for Asian small caps

Exhibiting an extensive track record of outperformance versus big caps and offering good diversification from traditional equities, we believe that Asian small-cap stocks provide numerous investment merits for long-term investors.

Core markets fixed income quarterly

The striking 52% year-on-year surge in prices of second-hand US vehicles has, as expected, caught market attention, with global chip shortages often blamed for the disruption in the market for used cars. Behind the scenes, however, stands Joe Biden, the US incumbent president, whose first 100 days in the office was marked by several milestones, some of which could quite convincingly add more “meat” to the story.

Emerging market fixed income quarterly

Emerging Markets (EM) debt began 2021 by consolidating after an exceptional performance at the end of 2020. The negative performance was mostly driven by a widening of US Treasury yields while spreads remained broadly unchanged.

Asian Fixed Income Monthly - March 2021

The UST yield curve steepened further in March as stronger-than-expected domestic economic data prints, passage of the US dollar (USD) 1.9 trillion stimulus package and a ramp-up in the rate of US vaccinations amid slowing daily infection rates prompted investors to increasingly price in accelerating growth in the coming quarters.

Asian equity monthly – March 2021

Asian stocks succumbed to profit-taking in March as hopes over a vaccine-led regional economic recovery were overshadowed by persistent reflationary concerns and rising global bond yields. The MSCI AC Asia ex Japan Index fell by 2.5% in US dollar (USD) terms over the month.

Japan Equity Monthly - March 2021

We provide our view on the Bank of Japan’s latest policy review, under which the central bank decided to allow long-term rates to fluctuate in a wider band and removed its annual target for ETF purchases. We also assess the barring of foreign spectators from the Olympic games.

Asian equity monthly – February 2021

Asian stocks gained in February as investors upheld optimism about a vaccine-led regional economic recovery. The MSCI AC Asia ex Japan Index rose 1.2% in US dollar (USD) terms over the month.

Asian Fixed Income Monthly - February 2021

The potential return of long-muted inflation sparked a meaningful jump in US Treasury (UST) yields in February. Fears of rising price pressures were prompted by the combination of robust domestic data, positive development on the COVID-19 vaccine front and an anticipated increase in US federal spending. Overall, 2-year and 10-year yields ended the month at 0.13% and 1.41%, respectively, about 1.9 basis points (bps) and 34 bps higher compared to end-January.

Australian Fixed Income Monthly – February 2021

The Australian bond market (as measured by the Bloomberg AusBond Composite 0+ Yr Index) returned -3.58% over the month. The yield curve steepened dramatically as 3-year government bond yields ended the month 1 basis point (bp) higher at 0.12%, while 10-year government bond yields spiked by 79 basis points (bps) to 1.92%. Short-term bank bill rates were marginally higher.

Australian equity monthly - February 2021

The S&P/ASX 200 Accumulation Index returned 1.5% during the month. Australian equities underperformed key offshore markets as a strong reporting season was offset by a surge in 10-year bond yields late in the month on the back of inflationary expectations. The global roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines and US fiscal stimulus saw the reflation trade take hold.

Japan Equity Monthly - February 2021

We assess the factors that enabled the Nikkei to rise above the 30,000 threshold for the first time since 1990; we also view the recent Robinhood frenzy from a Japanese market perspective.

Asian equity monthly – January 2021

Asian stocks brushed aside uncertainties posed by new COVID-19 variants and climbed higher in January. The MSCI AC Asia ex Japan Index rose 4.1% in US dollar (USD) terms over the month.

Asian Fixed Income Monthly - January 2021

The US Treasury (UST) yield curve steepened in January. The prospect of increased federal spending in the US prompted a sharp upward move in UST yields at the start of the year.

Ample upside room for slow recovering J-REITs

In 2020 the COVID-19 pandemic negatively affected a wide variety of Japanese assets, including the real estate investment trust (J-REIT) market. J-REITs have bounced back since, but their recovery has been sluggish compared to the Japanese equity market’s rebound. Despite the slower recovery, we believe J-REITs have ample upside room once the rise gathers pace.

Japan Equity Monthly - January 2021

We discuss Japan’s robust manufacturing sector and why it is not about reclaiming the past; we also take a look at the BOJ’s ETF purchases amid the current rally by equities.

Australian Fixed Income Monthly – January 2021

The Australian bond market (as measured by the Bloomberg AusBond Composite 0+ Yr Index) returned -0.42% over the month. The yield curve steepened as 3-year government bond yields ended the month flat at 0.11%, while 10-year government bond yields rose by 16 basis points (bps) to 1.13%. Short-term bank bill rates were unchanged.

Australian equity monthly - January 2021

The S&P/ASX 200 Accumulation Index returned 0.3% during the month. Australian equities outperformed most key offshore markets during the month as equity markets saw a pull-back late in the month. COVID-19 cases passed the 100 million mark globally and many countries continued to struggle with COVID-19 variant strains and vaccine supply issues.

2021 New Zealand Equities Outlook

Worldwide, 2020 was unequivocally dreadful; a year of loss, pain, anxiety and separation that found no worthy adversary in technology or social privilege.

Australian Fixed Income Monthly – December 2020

The Australian bond market (as measured by the Bloomberg AusBond Composite 0+ Yr Index) returned -0.27% over the month. The yield curve steepened as 3-year government bond yields ended the month flat at 0.11%, while 10-year government bond yields rose by 7 basis points (bps) to 0.97%. Short-term bank bill rates were largely unchanged.

Australian equity monthly - December 2020

The S&P/ASX 200 Accumulation Index returned 1.2% during the month. Australian equities lagged key offshore markets during the month. Despite COVID-19 cases rising exponentially in the US and Europe, the start of the vaccine roll-out and further certainty regarding the US election result saw equities move higher.

Asian equity monthly – December 2020

Asian stocks turned in solid gains in December, buoyed by optimism about a vaccine-led global economic rebound, fresh US fiscal stimulus and robust economic data from China. The MSCI AC Asia ex Japan Index rose 6.8% in US dollar (USD) terms over the month.

Asian Fixed Income Monthly - December 2020

The US Treasury (UST) yield curve steepened slightly in December. The UST 10-year bond yield rose 7.5 basis points (bps) to 0.915%, while the 2-year bond yield fell by 2.7 bps to 0.122%. Concerns in the month revolved around rising COVID-19 cases in Europe, particularly in the UK, and over the uncertainty of fiscal stimulus in the US.

Japan Equity Monthly - December 2020

We look into the potential economic impact of Japan’s attempt to become carbon neutral. We also analyse why Japan’s fiscal condition draws little attention although the country is on course to spend a record amount in its upcoming budget.

2021 New Zealand Fixed Income Outlook

We can head into 2021 with New Zealand the envy of many. But it remains to be seen how long this euphoria will last. Agriculture and horticulture are both promising, and the technology sector has been touted as the next big thing, but without a new major driver of growth, there’s no guarantee that our economic reality will match our ambition. Leveraging New Zealand’s exposure to fast growing economies such as China remains an important economic recovery strategy. But our greatest hope for emerging successfully from this period of wider “confidence slump” is that the low and plentiful cash stimulates risk taking and stimulates the economy, propelling New Zealand into its next phase of prosperity.

2021 Japan Equity Outlook

We believe 2021 will be remembered as a year that marked the beginning of the end of the COVID-19 crisis as the world develops vaccines to counter the pandemic. In Japan, we expect a gradual recovery of its economy in 2021, as the pandemic’s impact lessens, and economic activity normalises.

2021 Singapore Equity Outlook

Following the negative performance of 2020, we believe 2021 could see better returns and a recovery for Singapore equities. We believe equity returns will remain supported by the re-opening of the Singapore economy and expect an improved market performance in 2021. With the backdrop of fewer global trade conflicts, accelerating exports, accommodative policy, higher return on equity and low foreign ownership, we expect the outlook for 2021 earnings to improve and that should support better market returns.

2021 Asian Fixed Income and FX Outlook

We expect North Asia to continue to lead the region’s recovery (at least in the first half of the year). But we also expect the growth divergence between North Asia and the rest of the region to narrow. Unprecedented fiscal support from governments have been pivotal to the ongoing recovery. We expect fiscal action to continue in the coming year but anticipate renewed private sector confidence as the vaccine becomes broadly available and provides a powerful tailwind to regional growth.

2021 Asian Equity Outlook

Asian countries have, by and large, handled the COVID-19 pandemic better than their western counterparts and are now emerging from that nadir. Most of these countries have plenty of fiscal and/or monetary stimulus headroom. And this superior growth and better national finances are available at a significant discount to developed markets. A languid US dollar will enhance local currency returns in these “risk assets”.

2021 Asia Credit Outlook

We expect Asian credit spreads will tighten gradually over the coming months, supported by a solid rebound in gross domestic product (GDP) growth for most Asian economies in 2021 and stable to slightly better corporate credit fundamentals.

Beyond the pandemic: Identifying sources of alpha in Japan

The global markets surged in 2020 despite the COVID-19 pandemic. While we expect the liquidity-driven rise to continue for a while, we should be prepared for the tide to eventually turn. We identify Japanese industries, notably “Delta ESG” stocks, that could become sources of alpha in the post-pandemic world.

Asian equity monthly – November 2020

Asian stocks turned in strong gains in November, boosted by positive COVID-19 vaccine developments, rising hopes for better US-Asia ties under the leadership of US President-elect Joe Biden and stronger-than-expected economic data from several Asian countries. The MSCI AC Asia ex Japan Index rose 8.0% in US dollar (USD) terms over the month.

Asian Fixed Income Monthly - November 2020

The US Treasury (UST) yield curve flattened in November. Risk markets rallied after the US presidential election. Investor confidence was lifted following positive trial results of a COVID-19 vaccine. Yields subsequently retracted part of their earlier rise on news of soaring COVID-19 infection rates in the US and Europe and near-term downside risks to the economy.

Australian Fixed Income Monthly – November 2020

The Australian bond market (as measured by the Bloomberg AusBond Composite 0+ Yr Index) returned -0.11% over the month. The yield curve steepened as 3-year government bond yields ended the month 1 basis point (bp) lower at 0.11%, while 10-year government bond yields rose by 7 bps to 0.90%.

Australian equity monthly - November 2020

The S&P/ASX 200 Accumulation Index returned 10.2% during the month. Australian equities enjoyed a strong month (in fact, the best monthly return since 1992) on positive COVID-19 vaccine news, additional quantitative easing measures locally and increased certainty regarding the US presidential election result.

Japan Equity Monthly - November 2020

The Japanese equity market has posted impressive gains as 2020 draws to a close, with the Nikkei Stock Average reaching a near three-decade high, and we assess the rise from a long-term perspective. We also analyse how Japanese equities have managed to defy a stronger yen.

Efficiency of Japanese corporate investment in human capital and shareholder value

Japan struggles with an aging and shrinking population and it is important for the country, both from an economic and social perspective, to improve its relatively low labour productivity by efficiently utilising its human resources.

Japan IP beats the US in October

For October, on a seasonally adjusted YoY basis, Japan’s October YoY Industrial Production (IP) result was better than both US Manufacturing IP and US Total IP. It likely surpassed Europe’s too.

Significant value waiting to be unlocked in Japan

The COVID-19 pandemic has triggered changes in Japan that would have taken many years to initiate in less turbulent times. We believe there is significant value to be unlocked under such circumstances.

Asian equity monthly – October 2020

US presidential election jitters and an uptick in COVID-19 cases in the US and Europe triggered a downturn in global equities in October. Asian stocks, however, managed to turn in decent gains for the month, owing to a slowing pace of COVID-19 infections in the region and growing optimism over China’s economic recovery. The MSCI AC Asia ex Japan Index rose 2.8% in US dollar (USD) terms over the month.

Asian Fixed Income Monthly - October 2020

US Treasury (UST) yields rose in October. The US presidential election and the fiscal stimulus deal were the focal points of news headlines and markets in October. Worries about the acceleration of COVID-19 cases in the US and Western Europe, and renewed lockdowns in the latter, partially offset the upward pressure. Overall, 2-year yields ended 2.6 basis points (bps) higher at 0.155%, while 10-year yields rose 19.0 bps to 0.875%.

What the Biden win could mean for Japanese equities

We assess the US election outcome from the perspective of the Japanese equity market, focusing on the economic and policy changes that are expected to accompany the change in US leadership.

Japan Equity Monthly - October 2020

We discuss the reasons behind the Japanese equity market’s recent outperformance and the factors likely required for the gains to be sustainable in the longer term. We also assess the recent surge by the Mothers Index and key points to watch going forward.

Australian Fixed Income Monthly – October 2020

The Australian bond market (as measured by the Bloomberg AusBond Composite 0+ Yr Index) returned 0.28% over the month. The yield curve steepened as 3-year government bond yields ended the month 4 basis points (bps) lower at 0.12%, while 10-year government bond yields rose by 4 bps to 0.83%. Short-term bank bill rates were all lower.

Australian equity monthly - October 2020

The S&P/ASX 200 Accumulation Index returned 1.9% during the month. Australian equities were supported by the release of the Federal Budget early in the month which saw increased spending and tax cuts to aid the economy as it recovers.

US presidential election – Nikko AM’s views

In order to gain a range of perspectives on the US presidential election, Nikko Asset Management has gathered the views of the following experts and investment teams, representing many of our major asset classes and geographical regions.

Adapting to the “new normal”: Japan’s paradox

With the global outbreak of COVID-19 in the first half of 2020, the world was turned upside down. Under such circumstances, Japanese companies are now faced with new challenges to adapt to this “new normal”.

Asian Fixed Income Monthly - September 2020

US Treasury (UST) yields traded in a narrow range during the month. Factors such as the second wave of COVID-19 infections in Europe, lingering volatility in US equities and continued lack of consensus on further fiscal support weighed on market sentiment.

Asian equity monthly – September 2020

After three consecutive months of strong gains, Asian stocks finally succumbed to profit taking in September triggered by concerns that the global recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic could be running out of steam.

Australian Fixed Income Monthly – September 2020

The Australian bond market (as measured by the Bloomberg AusBond Composite 0+ Yr Index) returned 1.08% over the month.

Australian equity monthly - September 2020

The S&P/ASX 200 Accumulation Index returned -3.7% during the month. Australian equities lagged most developed markets during the month, as most markets took a breather in September.

Japan Equity Monthly - September 2020

Yoshihide Suga, Japan’s new prime minister, is widely expected to retain his predecessor’s fiscal and monetary policies known as “Abenomics”.

Global Investment Committee Outlook: A new regime ahead

Clearly, it remains difficult to predict events in this volatile environment, but in the interest of our clients, we do our best and fortunately this time, we had virtually unanimous agreement on a similar scenario as in June, both politically and economically.

ASEAN equities: Uncovering opportunities in uncertain times

The price bifurcation of ASEAN equities this year caused by the COVID-19 pandemic is creating ample stock-picking opportunities for long-term investors. Read on to find out which markets and sectors in the ASEAN region that we have the highest conviction in.

Asian equity monthly – August 2020

Asian stocks posted gains for the third consecutive month, boosted by positive COVID-19 vaccine developments around the world, the persistently weak US dollar (USD) and resilient Chinese economic data.

Suga - Likely the most pro-Third Arrow reform PM in Japan’s history

Despite major improvements over the last two decades, some critics will always doubt the progress of economic reform in Japan.

SugAbe-nomics

It does not seem that there are enough differences between Abenomics and the proposed economic policies of likely new Prime Minister Suga to justify the completely new portmanteau “Suganomics,” as a few analysts have suggested.

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Nikko AM works with the UK-based international organisation Carbon Footprint Ltd. to offset carbon emissions through offset programmes, and has been certified as carbon neutral since 2018.