Fears of a recession and the US CPI hitting a four-decade high of 8.6% year-on-year in May rippled through various economies. Asian markets took heed from the multiple headwinds in the US, with inflation being a common theme across the region. For the month, the MSCI AC Asia ex Japan Index fell by 4.5% in US dollar terms.
Amid today’s incessant chatter of rising inflation and global recession fears, we identify three high conviction themes driving a growth renaissance in ASEAN: electric vehicles (EVs), digitalisation and a revival by the old industrial economy.
“Stagflation-lite” coupled with a severe geopolitical crisis was much worse for equities than we expected, but most of the bad news is priced in, so the prospect for global economies and equities in aggregate should improve. While we expect global GDP to moderately underperform consensus, it should skirt recession and positively surprise equity markets, which increasingly have priced in recessionary conditions.
Defined as negative growth for two consecutive quarters, a recession is certainly in the realm of possibilities (if not probable). However, it may be more a reflection of continued extreme economic volatility following the COVID-19 pandemic, rather than a conventional recession that follows an extended period of economic expansion.
We review the “new form of capitalism”, a government plan to boost economic growth initiated by Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who is enjoying a high public approval rating ahead of a closely watched upper house election.
Recent results in the New Zealand retirement sector have been strong almost across the board, with operators of retirement villages posting high sales of both new stock and existing units. Independent valuations of retirement village assets have also increased significantly across all operators.
The beleaguered New Zealand bond market received some respite in May, while the Reserve Bank of New Zealand raised the Official Cash Rate by 50 basis points to 2%, with the market pricing in the central bank hiking rates again in July and August.
We prefer Malaysian bonds, as we are of the view that inflation will be relatively better contained in Malaysia. We are keeping a neutral view on duration for low-yielding regions and countries such as Hong Kong, Singapore and Thailand. On currencies, we favour the Chinese yuan, Thai baht and Singapore dollar to Philippine peso and Indian rupee.
This month we explain why losses by Japanese equities so far in 2022 have been limited relative to their peers; we also assess the positive impact a return of inbound tourism could have on Japan’s economy and markets.
Asian equity markets rose marginally in May, boosted by Shanghai’s plan to lift COVID-19 restrictions, even as the US Federal Reserve raised its benchmark overnight interest rate by 50 basis points. For the month, the MSCI AC Asia ex Japan Index rose by 0.5% in US dollar terms.