While we do not expect the US Federal Reserve to pivot any time soon towards easing policy, the firm break in dollar momentum perhaps reflects a shift in the relative growth story which had favoured the US towards one focused on the rest of the world centred around improving China demand.
In what was probably the best kept secret of many years, the BOJ unanimously agreed to shift its YCC policy well before virtually any economist or market watcher expected. The largest question people seem to have is “why now?”. As with most major decisions, the answer was likely a confluence of several important items.
Asian stocks rebounded strongly in November after Federal Reserve Fed Chair Jerome Powell pointed to slower pace of monetary policy tightening and lifted market sentiment. All Asian markets ended in positive territory, with China in the lead with a month-on-month (MoM) gain of 29.7%.
Although New Zealand’s November 2022 rate hike was larger than expected, markets had been pricing in aggressive tightening for quite some time. This may soften the impact of the current challenges. Given that yields on some bonds are now approaching 6%, we feel that stronger income generation opportunities are also providing a silver lining in the fixed income market.
As we look towards 2023, it is easy to be overwhelmed by the broader permutations of possible outcomes. But things don’t appear so dire in Asia. Inflation, which is effectively a value transfer from net consumers to net producers, may continue to benefit India and pockets of ASEAN due to favourable demographics and rising productivity.
This month we discuss the prospects of Japanese equities remaining well-supported into 2023 thanks to robust exports and inbound demand. We also explain why the markets are looking beyond a dip in Japan’s 3Q GDP, focusing instead on the prospect of growth resuming.
The cost of living and the cost of doing business are still weighing down on New Zealand’s consumers and companies as the end of 2022 approaches. On the corporate side, New Zealand’s companies continue to grapple with wage inflation driven by a scarcity of workers, higher logistics costs amid lingering supply chain issues, and elevated interest costs as hikes in the Official Cash Rate continue to bite.
As geopolitical risks and globalisation are reassessed in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and war in Europe, we believe that Japan stands to benefit as more companies refocus on their home markets.
New Zealand’s Official Cash Rate and short-term interest rates may stay elevated in 2023 but longer-term interest rates are likely to decline starting in the second half of the year as financial markets begin pricing in the possibility of rate cuts. Falling rates could see a stabilisation of the housing market and an improving outlook for the economy and financial market returns.
On balance, we are constructive mainly for valuation support and growth prospects improving for China with a firm tailwind from an easing dollar. Pockets of the US equity market may struggle on weaker earnings, but the rest of the world should still fair relatively well provided the US does not enter a deep recession.