This month we discuss what the market may initially seek the most from the next Bank of Japan governor; we also look at Japan’s expanding outlays, with tax revenue and inflation in focus.
The official GDP growth target of “around 5%” unveiled at China’s annual National People’s Congress was lower than many external forecasts, and fiscal policy looks less accommodative relative to both market expectations and that of 2022. In our view, these conservative targets leave room for outperformance and likely reflect cautiousness over unexpected events and reluctance in overstimulating the economy.
The MSCI AC Asia ex Japan Index slumped 6.8% in US dollar terms, giving up its January gains. China’s reopening and peak interest rates euphoria in January were short-lived as hotter-than-expected economic indicator releases in the US raised the spectre of higher-for-longer interest rates.
Considered to be one of the greatest modern-day medical breakthroughs, robotic surgery is revolutionising surgical practices around the world. The breakthrough is particularly prominent in China, which could be the next growth frontier for surgical robotic companies.
The just-released 4Q CY22 data on aggregate corporate profits in Japan was somewhat mixed, as the overall corporate recurring pre-tax profit margin fell from its record high on a four quarter average. The non-financial service sector ticked up, but the manufacturing sector fell from its record high.
Current equity market conditions dictate that you choose your investment attire particularly carefully. In our view, buying profitless technology companies is like going up a Scottish mountain wearing flip-flops. You might get away with it, but the odds are not in your favour. Instead, we prefer the protection afforded by profits (and cash) generated today—not at some unspecified point in the future.
Currently, there is a wide variety of predictions for the BOJ’s actions, with some expecting imminent hawkish decisions based upon some of Governor-nominee Kazuo Ueda’s “anti-distortion” comments, but changes are more likely to be gradual and tentative assuming the global economy continues improving.
We maintain the view that global inflationary pressures may moderate further. We prefer Singapore, South Korea and Indonesia bonds. As for currencies, we favour the renminbi, the Singapore dollar and the Thai baht.
Growth prospects look to be improving—a sharp shift from late 2022 when the markets had strong conviction that a first half slowdown was to be followed by a better second half.
Asian equities made a strong start to 2023, with the MSCI AC Asia ex Japan Index returning 8.2% in US dollar (USD) terms in January, supported by a rebound in investor sentiment towards China.
Contract development and manufacturing organisations (CDMOs) could play an important role in addressing health-related needs as society seeks rapid solutions to issues such as an increase in refractory diseases.
This month we assess the trends in wages and salaries with significant change potentially in progress; we also discuss how changes at the BOJ may affect the market.
In our view, the change from dollar strength to relative weakness is meaningful for the shift in relative growth prospects, favouring the rest of the world over the US.
While consumer sentiment may be weaker across China presently, we believe that the long-term outlook for the country’s consumer sector remains attractive. China’s lower-tier cities are stepping up to fuel the growth engine that once relied heavily on megacities.
Chinese shares outperformed in December as the country continued to move away from its zero-COVID policy while markets in Taiwan and South Korea slumped amid concerns towards the global economy. In ASEAN, Thailand led the region as the country is expected to be one of the biggest beneficiaries of a potential return of Chinese tourists.
We expect global inflation to ease and global growth to weaken in 2023; we also think that the Fed is likely to pause hiking rates by the first quarter of 2023. Against this backdrop, we are broadly constructive on regional bonds as most Asian central banks could be nearing the end of their rate hike cycles.
We discuss the Bank of Japan’s unexpected move to tweak its yield curve control scheme and the potential implications; we also provide a brief overview of some of the factors seen impacting Japan equities in 2023.
We don’t expect smooth sailing for the global economy and markets, but there should be great relief for both stocks and bonds in 2023, with pockets of strong outperformance due to idiosyncratic advantages. Notably, Europe and Developed Pacific-ex Japan should be overweighed for equites for the next six months, but Japan should perform the best by next December.
We are more positive on duration overall, on the assessment that we are likely past peak hawkishness from the Federal Reserve and other developed market central banks. We favour Singapore and South Korean government bonds, given their relatively higher sensitivity to stabilising US Treasury yields.
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.