On 19 May 2017, S&P upgraded Indonesia’ sovereign rating to BBB- with a stable outlook from BB+ with a positive outlook. In the longer term, the market is expecting that this rating upgrade will result in inflows of as much as USD 5bn into the bond market, particularly from Japanese investors who require a full investment grade rating from the three rating agencies.
Activity in the US has disappointed relative to the high market expectations when Donald Trump first entered the White House. However, a cyclical recovery remains intact, with potential headwinds from prior fiscal policy tightening reversing and the pace of monetary policy tightening expected to remain gradual.
MSCI Asia ex Japan (AxJ) was up another 2.2% in USD terms, outperforming the MSCI AC World. All AxJ markets ended higher in April. Robust economic data from China offset concerns over President's Trump's ability to pass through sweeping corporate tax cuts in the US.
10-year US Treasury (UST) yields ended the month at 2.28%, about 11 basis points (bps) lower compared to end-March levels. Mixed economic data and rising geopolitical tensions drove sentiment over the month. Towards the month-end, market sentiment improved after pro-euro French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron secured the most number of votes in the first round of elections.
MSCI Asia ex Japan (AxJ) was up 3.3% in USD terms, outperforming MSCI AC World. All Asian markets rose over the month, with gains led by India and Korea. The Indian Rupee was also the best-performing currency in March. The US Federal Reserve raised interest rates by 25 basis points (bps), as widely expected.
US Treasury (UST) yields rose in the first half of the month buoyed by hawkish comments from the Federal Reserve (Fed), a solid US jobs report and possible scale back of quantitative easing (QE) by the European Central Bank (ECB). While the Fed raised short-term interest rates, as expected, the absence of a more hawkish tone from the central bank triggered a drop in UST yields.
With Donald Trump’s victory in the US presidential elections inNovember 2016, the Republican Party succeeded in consolidating control over the White House, the Senate and the House of Representatives. This stoked expectations that meaningful legislation and reform would soon follow, in contrast to the troubled partisan years of the Obama administration when neither party was in control of all three arms of the government. However these expectations have rapidly faded over the last few weeks.
The Trump reflation trade may have lost some of its shine during the quarter, but any disappointment was more than overshadowed by strong global data as exports and production continued to gather pace. In fact, fading enthusiasm for Trump’s ability to execute has arguably served as a tailwind for Emerging Market (EM) assets in the form of a weaker dollar and moderating long term rates.
MSCI Asia ex Japan (AxJ) was up 3.4% in USD terms, marginally outperforming MSCI AC World. Absolute returns were positive for all AxJ markets except the Philippines. The Taiwan Dollar (TWD) was the best performing currency in AxJ followed by the Korean Won and Indian Rupee. Buoyed by the partial unwind of the post-election Trump-trade, gold was the best performing commodity.
US Treasury (UST) yields traded in a tight range in February. Risk assets rallied and UST yields rose in the first half of the month, on the back of the prospect of tax cuts and a Dodd-Frank overhaul in the US. Subsequently, yields were pressured lower by concerns about a possible victory by Marine Le Pen in France’s presidential elections. Overall, the 2-year and 10-year points on the UST curve ended the month about 6 basis points (bps) higher and 6bps lower respectively.