We expect 2024 to be a year of domestic consolidation and long-term reform measures, where markets are driven more by Japan-specific events than by global factors. After decades of deflation, we see Japan as finally breaking out of this cycle in 2024, as it enters a virtuous cycle of price increases and wage hikes.
Much like this report in 2023, global conditions will remain unique and defy a confident overall summary; thus, here are ten predictions on some particularly noteworthy factors.
Considering that major tech companies are profitable, cash rich and cannot afford to lose out in the highly competitive AI race, spending on high-end computing and neural networks looks set to continue in 2024. This will likely create a lasting boon to many component suppliers (the so-called picks and shovels of AI) across Asia.
We believe that our “New Singapore” narrative focusing on sectors and companies that represent the future of the city-state will remain relevant in 2024. Energy transition has risen to prominence within the New Singapore narrative in addition to data, technology, healthcare, logistics, tourism and food solutions.
We believe ASEAN will offer good pockets of growth and quality opportunities, as well as earnings resilience and protection amid some of the prevailing global macro headwinds.
We expect fundamentals and technical backdrop for Asian credit to remain supportive in 2024. However, valuation is a challenge with current Asian high-grade spreads near historical lows. The myriad cyclical and structural factors driving the major sub-sectors within Asian high-yield credit makes it is difficult to call the overall spread direction in 2024, although the current spread level remains wide and offers room for compression over the medium term.
We expect 2024 to be a year of higher returns and lower volatility for Asian local government bonds as US Treasury yields are seen stabilising. We also see Asian currencies firming against the dollar in 2024 as the Federal Reserve’s rate hike cycle comes to an end.
For those willing to brave immediate challenges, we believe China will continue to offer long-term opportunities as the country has been working to become technologically self-sufficient and develop high-end technologies on its own in a more challenging regulatory environment.
The just-released 3Q CY23 data on Japan’s aggregate corporate profits was a bit mixed, but the overall corporate recurring pre-tax profit margin surged to a record high on a four-quarter average. The non-financial service sector rose to another record high, but the manufacturing sector fell further from its record high.
We have held on to our view that the “higher for longer” narrative is not necessarily bad for equities, as robust earnings are supported by a US economy that continues to grow at above-trend rates. However, we are also sympathetic to the de-rating process where earnings look simply less attractive compared to higher rates across the yield curve.
We expect macro and corporate credit fundamentals across Asia ex-China to stay resilient with fiscal buffers, although slower economic growth appears to loom over the horizon.
In the transition to net zero, the focus is on impact and engagement. We are actively engaged in the global fixed income markets, and support green and sustainable investments in the transition towards overall sustainability in order to meet net zero targets. We are particularly trying to focus on those companies with ambitious targets for net zero and carbon reduction.
The last few quarters have been a good reminder that we are in a changing world. As a result, we need to focus always on investing in enduring franchises and we would suggest that our Future Quality approach is soundly placed in that regard. We also need to approach monetary policy with an open mind—sometime soon the central banks could change the game again. In surfing parlance, be ready with your trusted board and make the most of the conditions.
Recently many fixed income investors have experienced steep price declines in their bond portfolios. We have argued that it is not only duration that explains the interest risk of a portfolio, but that convexity needs to be accounted for as well. In this paper we point out that credit risk measures also have to be adjusted in an environment of declining bond prices.
The emergence of Sustainable Bonds as an asset class has been relatively rapid, and the spectrum of different classifications of investments can naturally be confusing for investors. Here we outline some of the key criteria for investors to look for when investing in Green, Social and Sustainability Bonds (GSS).
In one of the most significant changes surrounding New Zealand’s equity market in recent years, the general election held in October delivered a change of government. Overall business sentiment has been generally positive after the election result. The outcome has been favourable for the aged care sector and building-exposed names. On the other hand, it has thrown up some uncertainties over the future of New Zealand’s environmental policy.
The general election held in October resulted in a change in government for New Zealand. Although it is difficult to gain a full picture at this stage, we can make some key observations on monetary policy: the Reserve Bank of New Zealand’s mandate could be pared back to ensure that its sole focus is on managing inflation.
We analyse the Bank of Japan’s decision to further tweak its yield curve control scheme amid the latest developments hinting at sustained wage growth; we also assess why an acute labour shortage could be a golden opportunity for Japan Inc. to change structurally.
While the risk-off environment stretched into another month, we are still finding plenty of positives in Asia. India’s macro remains favourable; Chinese equity markets are near the cheapest in 20 years; and the semiconductor industry is showing signs of a bottoming. With the US potentially having reached peak interest rates, this could be a welcome backdrop for Asian markets going forward.
The Green Bond market has experienced tremendous growth since 2007, but despite its rapid success, there are still barriers to overcome. In particular, assessing the impact of Green Bonds continues to be a contentious topic.
Our economic system is based on a model of take, make and waste that consistently over-utilises and fails to replenish Earth’s valuable, but dwindling resources. The need to transform how we interact with nature creates a major opportunity for the green bond universe. So far, issuers have successfully embraced funding the transition toward carbon neutrality, but far fewer are looking at regenerative biodiversity projects or initiatives that seek to protect our ecosystems from loss.
We explore the opportunities and risks emanating from China’s near-zero inflation and India’s above-average consumer prices.
Although once-in-a-generation exceptional weather events now risk becoming alarmingly routine, there is still time to turn the tide. This need for immediate action is why we define climate change as an investment megatrend, and we believe Green and Sustainable Bonds have a vital role to play.
Defying seemingly broad sentiment that a slowdown is coming, the US economy continues to chug along, and bond yields are continuing to wake up to the monetary reality that long-term rates need to be repriced accordingly. The adjustment has been aggressive and fast. Still, there is a natural limit to these types of moves.
Modern alpha relies on multiple sources and is therefore more stable and recurring than the traditional “big bets”. For most investors, the main source of alpha is fundamental research. But to add stability it is plausible to combine fundamental research with quantitative strategies as an additional alpha source.