Insights

Investment Insights by our experts and thought leaders

Harvesting Growth, Harnessing Change

Change is both more prevalent and significant in Asian markets. We believe that seeking to understand it is essential to deliver sustainable returns.

The outlook is increasingly clouded as markets come to terms with a Fed that may do “whatever it takes” to contain inflation. Given that current inflationary pressures appear to be mainly driven by supply-side constraints and rising energy prices, it follows that the Fed would need to be willing to take the economy into a recession to meet its mandate.

Increasing energy and food prices were the main factors that pushed most regional headline CPI prints higher in March. The Monetary Authority of Singapore aggressively tightened FX policy while China stepped up both monetary and fiscal policy support as the country struggled to contain its worst COVID-19 outbreak in two years.

Asian markets were downcast in April as investors were concerned about inflation and the likelihood of a larger-than-expected rate hike by the US Federal Reserve. For the month, the MSCI AC Asia ex Japan Index fell by 5.2% in US dollar (USD) terms.

New Zealand Fixed Income Monthly – April 2022

It has still been a tough year so far for New Zealand bonds amid pressure from inflation. That said, the market in New Zealand has been an outperformer among global peers since the beginning of 2022.

New Zealand Equity Monthly – April 2022

This month we turn our focus to developments in China and their impact on New Zealand companies. New Zealand’s trade with China expanded by 22% in 2021 despite COVID-19 having an impact throughout the year. This highlights the incredible growth seen in trade between the two countries over the years.

Despite fearmongering on demographics, Japan’s business has soared

Pundits need to be careful about scaring people regarding Japan and, thus, harming its economic future. This is especially true regarding recent high profile, wildly exaggerated tweets about demographics, a decades-old theme; clearly, this is a challenging theme, but Japan is certainly not going to disappear.

Global Unconstrained Bond Strategy Q2 2022 Outlook

We present our Q2 2022 outlook for the Global Unconstrained Bond Strategy which incorporates our core markets, emerging markets and global credit views.

Navigating Japan Equities: Monthly Insights from Tokyo (May 2022)

We discuss the implications of the weak yen, now considered by some as a menace rather than a blessing, for the Japanese market and economy. We also explain the potential impact of higher energy and commodity prices.

Ground-level observations from China

A trip back to China provided an opportunity to experience first-hand the impact innovative technology and digitalisation is having on a fast-changing urban society.

Relief rallies are always encouraging but do not necessarily portray parting clouds for a return to “normal” market conditions. The market is still digesting a rather dizzying array of challenging dynamics that have unfolded quickly over the last quarter.

Global Equity Quarterly (Q1 2022)

We are keen to participate in the push towards a less carbon intensive future but want to do so in a balanced fashion, with one eye on the associated risks.

We have eased our cautious view towards duration as we expect global rates to consolidate from current levels. On currencies, we are positive on the Malaysian ringgit, Indonesian rupiah and Singapore dollar.

Asian stocks declined in March, dragged down by the Russia-Ukraine conflict. Lingering concerns over inflation also weighed on the equities markets. For the month, the MSCI AC Asia ex Japan Index fell by 2.8% in US dollar terms.

Navigating Japan Equities: Monthly Insights from Tokyo (April 2022)

This month we discuss the Japanese stock market’s recovery from the initial shock of the Russia-Ukraine war; we also assess the potential impact of a Russian debt default on Japan’s markets and financial system.

New Zealand Fixed Income Monthly – March 2022

The New Zealand bond market has experienced a rough start to 2022. The chief driving market factor has been the upward movement in reference interest rates, with the swap and government curves all moving up as central banks turn hawkish to fight inflation for the first time in a generation.

New Zealand Equity Monthly – March 2022

This month we focus on A-REITs, which are larger and more liquid relative to their New Zealand peers. One of the sector’s benefits over its New Zealand counterpart is its simple numerical advantage: Australia boasts 34 REITs, which is three times the number of REITs in New Zealand.

Japan Value Insights: Spotlight on sustainable companies addressing social issues

We share our thoughts on sustainable companies that address social issues and contribute to the physical and mental well-being of individuals.

The GIC expects the global economy to continue struggling in a form of “stagflation-lite” and sees a relatively flat performance for global equities for the next three to six months (although quite positive on Pacific equities), with moderate weakness for global bonds.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has created significant uncertainty for investors. Prior to the war’s outbreak, central bankers were already facing a challenging inflationary environment, and these new commodity-driven price pressures are set to complicate matters even further.

We are generally neutral to slightly cautious in our view of countries whose bonds are relatively more sensitive to UST movements. Within Asia currencies, we prefer the Chinese renminbi and Malaysian ringgit over the Indian rupee and the Philippine peso.

New Zealand Fixed Income Monthly – February 2022

We think the New Zealand bond market looks very attractive relative to the rest of the world given how high our interest rates are. At the same time, we certainty aren’t immune to developments in the rest of the world, particularly the US, where the Federal Reserve is poised to begin raising rates.

New Zealand Equity Monthly – February 2022

The New Zealand market recovered well from the global plunge in equities seen in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on 24 February. The current events in Europe have had very little immediate impact on New Zealand, particularly from a corporate earnings perspective.

Asian stocks suffered losses in February as escalating Russia-Ukraine tensions culminated in an invasion of Ukraine by Russia. But despite the war in Eastern Europe, in our view Asian economies are more than strong enough to withstand commodity price hikes even at their current elevated levels.

Navigating Japan Equities: Monthly Insights from Tokyo (March 2022)

This month we discuss how higher long-term yields could impact Japanese stocks; we also focus on how robust exports could play a role in boosting the country’s long stagnant wage growth.

Japan’s “show me the money” corporate governance: 4Q record high

The just released 4Q CY21 data on aggregate corporate profits in Japan was very positive, with the overall corporate recurring pre-tax profit margin hitting a record high on a four quarter average.

Russia-Ukraine conflict – Nikko AM’s views

In order to gain a range of perspectives on the Russia-Ukraine conflict, Nikko Asset Management has gathered the views of various experts and investment teams, representing many of our major asset classes and geographical regions.

Navigating Japan Equities: Monthly Insights from Tokyo (February 2022)

We analyse the course the Bank of Japan could take as other major central banks move towards policy change; we also take a deeper look into Japan’s strong exports, which are expected to keep buoying the economy in 2022.

Policy actions by monetary authorities diverged across the region; we remain cautious on bonds of low yielding countries and regional currencies.

Future Quality Insights – February 2022 - History rhymes

Have you ever stopped to imagine what would happen if the world’s central banks spent just over a decade pouring USD 25 trillion of liquidity into the economy with more than 60% of that liquidity created in the last two years? In this article, we’ll try to assess what has happened and think about how investors should navigate the next phase of the greatest financial experiment of all time.

The outlook is currently challenging. Tightening is coming, but it is not here yet and in the meantime current policy remains quite accommodative. There is no doubt that extremely easy policy boosted equity prices, which were reinforced by strong earnings. Still, we believe organic growth can continue.

Asian stocks had a tough start to 2022 amid concerns that persistent inflation could cause any tightening by the US Federal Reserve (Fed) to be more aggressive than expected. For the month, the MSCI AC Asia ex Japan Index fell by 3.10% in US dollar (USD) terms.

US Federal Reserve: Approaching lift-off

Increasing expectations of a more aggressive Fed tightening cycle have led to a sell-off in US Treasuries. We share our thoughts on what this means for investors in 2022 and discuss our outlook for Asian bond markets.

New Zealand Equity Monthly – January 2022

We see the volatility in the New Zealand markets as an opportunity to focus on new companies for which we have a high degree of confidence in their earnings.

New Zealand Fixed Income Monthly – January 2022

Inflation is creating challenges for the New Zealand bond market and economy. In line with bond markets around the world, New Zealand’s market has had a difficult start to 2022. Bond yields and interest rates in general have been climbing as central banks hike rates to tackle soaring inflation.

Differentiation through engagement: Opportunities in Japan equities

We highlight the increasing importance of engagement in Japan, explain how it could be the key to unlocking the long-underperforming Japanese market’s potential, and assess how it can lead to the generation of alpha.

India: Reaping growth from change

Going back to India for a month after two long years of not being able to visit my family, I was pleasantly surprised by the new normal. While there has been much adversity, COVID-19 has also sparked positive change, especially on technology adoption.

Thoughts for seasick investors

It would not be surprising if the major swings in the markets and macroeconomic conditions, including historic central bank shifts, have made most investors somewhat seasick. Recently on a day-to-day basis, markets seem to react quite irrationally, but the overall backdrop is fairly clear: the markets are getting accustomed to one of the most rapid and major shifts in Federal Reserve policy ever in its history.

Global Equity Quarterly (Q4 2021)

An ability to look forward to better times and remain optimistic is invaluable. These attributes are no less helpful when investing in equities. Whilst you can get an unpleasant surprise from misjudging the direction of the tide while enjoying your picnic, the consequences for misjudging the direction of the liquidity waves look more pronounced than ever as we enter 2022.

As is often the case, markets are a better reflection of general sentiment than news headlines and so far, it points to an ongoing global recovery as equities hold their gains of 2021 and long-term bond yields rise. It may not be time yet to write off more difficult scenarios derived from the outbreak of Omicron, but facts so far do speak more positively than just one month ago.

On the back of uncertainties surrounding Omicron and major central banks turning hawkish, we deem it prudent to hold a slightly cautious stance on duration, as well as a slightly defensive stance on Asian currencies.

Taiwan and South Korea were buoyed by strong exports as sustained global demand for electronics supported hardware tech stocks amid widespread supply chain disruptions. The ASEAN region saw mixed returns. Thailand was the best performer as policymakers approved new stimulus measures to support domestic consumption, while the Philippines had to delay COVID-19 vaccinations on the back of Typhoon Rai.

Navigating Japan Equities: Monthly Insights from Tokyo (January 2022)

We expect Japanese equities to rise significantly in 2022, supported by factors such as the government’s fiscal and coronavirus policies, the reshuffling of the Tokyo Stock Exchange (TSE) and robust exports.

New Zealand Fixed Income Monthly - November 2021

New Zealand faces the same kind of uncertainties other countries are confronting due to the global pandemic. But New Zealand, in some ways, has been in the vanguard of recovery from the COVID-19 outbreak.

Following the emergence of the new Omicron COVID-19 variant and with the World Health Organization declaring its concern, we hold a neutral view on duration in the near term and a slightly cautious stance on Asia currencies.

New Zealand Equity Monthly – November 2021

COP26 included a pledge by New Zealand and 100 other countries to achieve 30% cuts in methane emissions by 2030. Similar progress is being seen in the area of corporate disclosure as New Zealand is set to have its first climate-related disclosure standard by the end of next year.

The global outlook still looks positive, but less is known about the potential impact of the latest variant of the COVID-19 virus, Omicron—particularly in light of the fast government response to add restrictions on travel and, in some cases, local mobility.

We maintain a constructive view of risk assets but are cognizant that the path toward realising gains will be more delicate as we traverse the course of the Fed and other central banks removing their easy policies.

2022 Asian Equity Outlook: Well positioned to navigate tightening

We believe that Asian economies are well positioned to navigate monetary tightening in the US. Government finances are healthier, as are corporate balance sheets. Most Asian economies are digitising faster than their western peers, while consumption is set to receive a meaningful boost from economic reopening.

Global Investment Committee's 2022 Outlook: Positive for risk assets

According to our Global Investment Committee, which concentrates on the intermediate term-view regarding developed markets for pension funds and other long-term investors, 2022 looks to be a challenging, but positive year for risk assets. We believe that the G-3 central banks will become more hawkish, and such pivots can often cause potholes and at the very least headwinds, but we trust that policymakers can traverse their new course successfully overall.

2022 New Zealand Fixed Income Outlook: Boxing on into 2022

For a nation that prides itself on punching above its weight in all we do, 2021 has seen New Zealand bobbing and weaving against the ropes somewhat, as we’ve fought the economic impact of an enduring COVID-19 pandemic. We may have been down in some places, but we’re certainly not out as we approach 2022.

The initial discovery of the Omicron variant was met with fairly sensational reporting by some of the world’s media and this fed through quickly into investor sentiment. It is probably true, however, that even if Omicron had not surfaced it was probably about time that investors were again reminded of the volatility that resides in markets, despite the mollifying impact of endless liquidity injections by central banks.

2022 Japan Equity Outlook: ESG to bring Japan to the fore

ESG initiatives are expected to become ever more important for companies and investors around the world in 2022. We expect many Japanese companies to come to the fore amid this global shift towards ESG, with enhancements in ESG disclosures shedding light on their value creation opportunities amid the current drive towards decarbonisation.

2022 Singapore Equity Outlook: Focusing on sustainable growth

The Singapore economy is on a road to recovery. Although the economy has already rebounded sharply in 2021, we expect the recovery theme to remain intact and continue supporting the Singapore economy in 2022. We see a broadening of growth within Singapore’s key economic engines in 2022, with a sharper recovery expected in the services sector as the economy reopens.

2022 China Equity Outlook: Focusing on new market leaders

Amid a flurry of headlines, investors may have largely overlooked the significant number of recent positive developments in China, such as initiatives directed towards ambitious renewables targets, the continued opening up of the financial sectors and support for a significant number of industries including AI and big data. We believe these areas could become the new leaders of China’s capital markets, representing investment themes for the next several decades.

2022 Asian Fixed Income and FX Outlook: Regional recovery expected

The economic recovery in Asia ex-China is likely to improve significantly in 2022 as regulations are eased, borders are reopened and vaccination rates increase. We anticipate these developments to boost private sector confidence, providing an important tailwind for Asian ex-China growth in 2022.

2022 Global Fixed Income Outlook

We present our 2022 outlook for core markets, emerging markets and global credit.

Asian stocks fell in November on concerns that the spread of the new Omicron COVID-19 variant could derail global reopening plans and delay economic recoveries.

2022 Asian Credit Outlook: Growth momentum seen reviving

The macro backdrop and robust corporate credit fundamentals remain supportive of Asia credit spreads. As such, we expect growth momentum of many Asian economies to gather pace heading into 2022. Overall corporate credit fundamentals are expected to remain robust, with earnings growth staying strong—albeit at a slightly slower pace compared to 2021.

The global economy should match the consensus for strong growth, thanks to vaccinations, continued fiscal stimulus, acceptable global geopolitical conditions, and continued low interest rates despite increasingly hawkish central banks. Such, via increased corporate profits, should allow equity markets to perform very well ahead, with impressive returns in each region, particularly in Japan.

Navigating Japan Equities: Monthly Insights from Tokyo (December 2021)

We assess Japan PM Kishida’s record stimulus package and its potential implications for the pandemic-hit economy; we also gauge what the new political administration could mean for the Japanese capital markets currently undergoing significant changes.

Japan’s “Show Me the Money” Corporate Governance: 3Q Record High

The just released 3Q CY21 data on aggregate corporate profits in Japan was very positive, as although for the single quarter, the overall corporate recurring pre-tax profit margin declined from the 2Q, as it does routinely for this non-seasonally adjusted data.

Future Quality Insights - December 2021 - A trip to Lisbon

Just a few weeks ago I attended my first in-person conference since 2019. Over 40,000 people descended upon Lisbon for Web Summit, one of the world’s largest technology conferences. The event brings together CEO’s and founders of established firms together with start-ups and policymakers to discuss and pitch ideas over the course of a week.

Why Japan’s CPI remains low when other economies grapple with inflation

As the global economy takes steps to recover from the pandemic, prices have steadily risen around the world. Japan, however, remains an exception among the major economies. The country’s headline CPI did tick up in October, but at a very modest pace, showing that inflation is yet to gain strong traction in a country long stuck in deflation.

China: Regulate in order to innovate

Every few years, concerns emerge over whether China is investable. We are currently witnessing the latest round of this cycle amid China’s drive to regulate. However, investing in China during such moments of doubt has reaped substantial returns in the past. The key is not missing the forest for the trees when China is regulating in order to innovate.

Asian stocks rose in October, with investors remaining focused on rising inflationary pressures and the US Federal Reserve’s tapering plans. The markets’ key concern is China’s economic performance and its impact on the energy and commodity complexes.

Has economic data really changed so much as to suggest an inflection point on inflation and the growth outlook was near? To some degree perhaps, at least in the eyes of the market, but not enough in the end for central banks to meaningfully change their guidance.

We expect Indonesian bonds to outperform, as demand is supported by positive supply technicals. Meanwhile, we see bonds of low-yielding countries like Singapore, South Korea and Thailand prone to bear flattening, driven mainly by UST movement.

New Zealand Fixed Income Monthly - October 2021

October was a tough month for the New Zealand bond market with yields rising in anticipation of further increases in cash rates and in response to global markets bracing for the possibility of central banks reducing stimulus by tapering bond purchases.

Global Fixed Income Quarterly - Q4 2021 Outlook

The optimist says prices are cheap. The pessimist says prices are expensive. The central banker says inflation is transitory. We remain in the aftermath of a month where the worldview on the future of monetary policy has dramatically changed.

New Zealand Equity Monthly – October 2021

The New Zealand stock market has been flat in the calendar year to date, with companies working to adapt to a number of risk factors. This puts it in stark contrast with markets in the rest of the developed world, which have seen gains ranging from 10% to 25%.

Japan Value Insights: Medical technology key to value and addressing inefficiencies

Japan’s rapidly advancing medical technology is viewed as a way to address the healthcare sector’s inefficiencies while at the same time offering potential value opportunities.

Japan Equity Monthly – October 2021

We explain how the recent lower house election win gives Japan’s new prime minister a free hand to pursue policies aimed to help the economy recover from COVID-19. We also analyse why a weaker yen no longer provides as much of a boost to equities.

Global Equity Quarterly Q3 2021

Our philosophy is centred on the search for “Future Quality” in a company. Future Quality companies are those that we believe will attain and sustain high returns on investment. ESG considerations are integral to Future Quality investing as good companies make for good investment.

Asian Fixed Income Monthly - September 2021

US Treasury (UST) yields rose in September, with the US Federal Open Market Committee finally alluding to moderate its asset purchases as soon as November. The rise in rates was further supported by an escalating power crunch across Europe and China amid surging energy prices prompting concerns about inflation.

Multi-asset Monthly - October 2021

Volatility has arisen as we expected it eventually would, and September is often an apt month to rediscover risk given market participants’ return from summer vacations noting that record high equity markets do not quite square with a number of significant risk events on the near-term horizon.

Asian Equity Monthly - September 2021

Asian stocks fell in September, with concerns about China’s growth outlook and the US Federal Reserve (Fed)’s taper plan being the key drivers of sentiment. For the month, the MSCI AC Asia ex Japan Index declined by 4.2% in US dollar (USD) terms.

New Zealand Equity Monthly – September 2021

The equity market reaction to New Zealand’s second COVID-19 lockdown has been far more muted than the first time similar restrictions were imposed. The first lockdown from March 2020 caused an aggressive sell-off as investors and companies alike adjusted to a completely unprecedented situation.

Japan Equity Monthly - September 2021

We provide an update of Japan’s political calendar as the new Prime Minister Kishida leads the ruling party into a 31 October general election, which could have a significant market impact. We also discuss what the recent China-related volatility could mean for the Japanese market.

New Zealand Fixed Income Monthly - September 2021

Since the Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ) postponed a widely expected rate hike in August, pricing in the market has pulled back, supporting a view that the central bank will hike rates by 25 basis points (bps) at each of its next three policy meetings.

What can investors expect from a Kishida government?

As expected by most observers, Mr. Kishida won the Liberal Democratic Party presidential election in the second round with a sturdy, though not overwhelming, 60% of the vote. He will be formally named prime minister next week and will likely form a relatively youthful cabinet, with females in several major posts.

Out of the six scenarios presented, a narrow majority of our committee agreed again on a positive scenario in which the global economy matches the market consensus for solid growth, while equities continue to rally.

Funding high-impact climate action with green bonds

The past five years have been the hottest since records began. In the decade to 2020, global surface temperatures were 1.09C higher compared to the pre-industrial era (1850–1900)1. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warns that stabilising global warming below the 1.5C level is critical to avoiding the most extreme impacts on ecosystems and human health.

Latin America: Supplier to a commodity-hungry world

Inflation is on everyone’s mind. From central bankers to bakers, it is one of the biggest topics of discussion. The prices of many commodities are rising sharply. The reasons vary. Supply constraints, sharp rise in demand or bad weather—take your pick.

Multi-asset Monthly - September 2021

As we contemplate a post-pandemic world, it is becoming more likely that things will not return to “normal” as we once knew it. While vaccines have been highly successful in preventing serious illness in those who are still contracting the virus, the Delta variant of COVID-19 is also proving to be harder to contain.

Asian Fixed Income Monthly - August 2021

US Treasury (UST) yields rose in August, prompted by data showing stronger-than-expected US employment growth. The rise in rates was supported by hawkish comments from some US Federal Reserve (Fed) officials.

Staying adaptive to an evolving recovery

The world is settling into a new normal that is likely to look quite different from pre-COVID-19 norms. This includes different patterns of demand shaped by learning to live with the virus and an ongoing fiscal thrust with firm policy objectives.

New Zealand Equity Monthly – August 2021

With the reporting season in full swing, this month we turn our attention to New Zealand’s corporate results and announcements. In particular we focus on the COVID-19 pandemic and its effect on such results and highlight how changing demographics have provided opportunities for certain sectors.

New Zealand Fixed Income Monthly - August 2021

The detection of New Zealand’s first COVID-19 Delta variant infections and the subsequent decision by the Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ) to postpone a widely expected rate hike muddied the country’s outlook in August. The economy was previously running at a strong pace with unusually high inflation of 3.5% and very low unemployment.

Asian Equity Monthly - August 2021

Asian stocks gained in August. While concerns about the spread of the Delta variant weighed on markets at the beginning of the month, the US Federal Reserve (Fed)’s dovish commentary and a rebound in the battered Chinese technology (tech) sector lifted sentiment towards the month-end

Japan Equity Monthly - August 2021

The news of Prime Minister Suga’s impending resignation triggered a rally in Japanese equities this week, with the market hoping that a new administration will bring the COVID-19 outbreak under control and hasten the normalisation of the economy. We explain what the market expects from the new administration and assess the implications of Japan’s upcoming general election.

Japan Value Insights

Japan’s drive to embrace hydrogen as an alternative energy source is an opportunity to identify hidden value in firms that are willing to tackle and resolve social issues.

Japan’s “Show Me the Money” Corporate Governance: 2Q Positive Profit Surprise

The just released 2Q CY21 data on aggregate corporate profits in Japan was surprisingly positive, as the overall corporate recurring pre-tax profit margin surged relatively near its record high in the 3Q CY18.

Japan’s structural reform to benefit investors

The three Japan-related news topics that have overwhelmingly dominated the attention of Western media so far this year are COVID-19 (by far), the Tokyo Olympics and the showdown at Toshiba.

Future Quality Insights - August 2021

The Tokyo summer Olympics have been a welcome distraction over the last few weeks and well done to Japan for hosting the games so successfully in the current environment. In particular it is inspiring to see the years of preparation and planning being showcased by the top competitors in their respective sports.

Asian Equity Monthly - July 2021

Asian stocks suffered losses in July, weighed down by the selloff in Chinese equities following Beijing’s regulatory crackdown on the private tutoring and technology-related sectors.

Multi-asset Monthly - August 2021

Cross-asset pricing has recently been challenging our reflationary outlook. When we first discussed the prospects for reflation about a year ago, we identified a number of key factors.

New Zealand Equity Monthly - July 2021

This month we turn our focus to environment, social and governance (ESG) issues. ESG is firmly in the spotlight at present, and this trend will only intensify in the future. In global terms, Europe’s level of ESG legislation is more advanced than New Zealand’s and ESG is more of a hot topic there.

New Zealand Fixed Income Monthly - July 2021

New Zealand’s bond market performed well overall in July, although the long term sector outperformed its short term peers significantly.

Asian Fixed Income Monthly - July 2021

The US Treasury (UST) curve bull flattened in July. The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting was largely uneventful, although the forward guidance on asset purchases was tweaked slightly to indicate that progress had been made towards the Committee’s goals although still shy of the “substantial further progress” needed for the start of tapering.

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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.