Global equity markets rallied throughout 2017 without any major setbacks. With volatility at extreme lows, it could be said that 2017 was an unusually fortunate year for market participants in terms of risk and reward.
The MSCI AC Asia ex Japan (AxJ) Index fell by 4.8% in USD terms amid persistent concerns about trade tensions between China and the US.
In June, the US Treasury (UST) curve flattened. The US Federal Reserve (Fed)'s 25 basis points (bps) rate hike was accompanied by a more hawkish tone, supporting higher short-term rates.
The Japanese equity market was mixed in June, with the TOPIX (w/dividends) falling 0.76% on-month and the Nikkei 225 (w/dividends) climbing 0.65%.
The MSCI AC Asia ex Japan (AxJ) Index closed -1.3% in USD terms as markets turned more risk averse amidst macro uncertainties, trade tensions and higher oil prices.
In May, US Treasury (UST) yields ended lower. A solid US jobs report supported the bearish bias in UST yields that prevailed.
The Japanese equity market declined in May, with the TOPIX (w/dividends) dropping 1.67% on-month and the Nikkei 225 (w/dividends) falling 1.18%.
Japan’s corporate governance reforms have progressed slowly but surely and the recent revision of the code will add momentum for the unwinding of cross-shareholdings.
Japanese profit margins continued roughly flat in the 1Q, but at a high plateau due to improved corporate governance over the past years. With global economic growth pushing up the top line, profits should continue to rise significantly in the quarters ahead.
John Vail, Chief Global Strategist for Nikko Asset Management, contributes a regular column to Forbes.com
The MSCI AC Asia ex Japan (AxJ) Index gained 0.7% in USD terms. Trade jitters receded following China’s commitment at the Bo’ao Forum to further open up the economy to foreign businesses.