Evolving Markets

Investment Insights by our experts and thought leaders

Asian Equity Monthly Outlook - December 2018

The MSCI AC Asia ex Japan (AxJ) Index gained 5.3% in USD terms in November, despite persistent concerns over global growth and a slide in technology stocks.

From the Australian Equities Desk - November 18

The S&P/ASX 200 Accumulation Index returned -2.2% during November.

From the Australian Fixed Income Desk - November 18

The Australian bond market (as measured by the Bloomberg AusBond Composite 0+ Yr Index) was up 0.24% over the month, outperforming Australian equities which fell over 2%.

Australian Housing - Don't Panic

Over the past year Australian house prices have seen 12 consecutive months of decline, the longest streak of persistent falls in over 20 years.

Stop making sense: the state of volatility in markets

Volatility is back in a big way in 2018. A large increase in the VIX is showing an annual level not witnessed since 2007. The sell-off that started in October appears to have been triggered by a number of negative technical forces in the USA coming into effect at the same time, which impacted global markets.

In the AI Age, Active Managers Making Smart Human Decisions Will Win

One of the pleasures of getting older is that you start to have proper grown-up conversations with your children.

US Recession Risk and the Path for Interest Rates

The US economy is enjoying its second-longest growth cycle in history and is on the way to becoming the longest on record.

Asian Equity Monthly Outlook - November 2018

The MSCI AC Asia ex Japan (AxJ) Index fell by 10.85% in USD terms, on the back of concerns about rising interest rates, slower economic growth, and persistent US-China trade tensions. Large technology stocks were particularly hard hit.

Asian Fixed Income Monthly Outlook - November 2018

US Treasury (UST) yields spiked at the start of October as the market responded to stronger US data and Federal Reserve (Fed) Chairman Jerome Powell's hawkish comments.

Global equities corrected downwards by 7.5% in USD terms in October. Stocks in the US ended the month down 6.5% after an intra-month peak-to-trough drawdown exceeding -10%.

Asia's Current Account: Good or Bad?

On the back of unrelenting USD strength, 2018 has been a tumultuous period for Asian currencies. Countries in the region with current account deficits have been facing more currency pressure, prompting their central banks to engage in series of rate hikes to defend their currencies.

Trump Will Hate These Buybacks

Clearly, the U.S. Administration has tried to protect the steel and other industries considered important for defense and economic security. The intent is to have them invest in new capacity due to the recently higher product prices.

John Vail, Chief Global Strategist for Nikko Asset Management, contributes a regular column to Forbes.com

From the Australian Equities Desk - October 18

The S&P/ASX 200 Accumulation Index returned -6.1% during the month.

From the Australian Fixed Income Desk - October 18

The Australian bond market (as measured by the Bloomberg AusBond Composite 0+ Yr Index) was up 0.48% over the month, outperforming Australian equities which tumbled over 6%.

Climate Change - an Unstoppable Force?

As the world experiences more extreme weather patterns and climate-related incidents, pressure is mounting to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

The trade war between the US and China appears to be morphing into deeper and more protracted conflict as reflected in a recent speech by US Vice President Mike Pence, who criticised China not just for trade practices but more fundamentally for its broad political and economic model.

Asian Equity Monthly Outlook - October 2018

The MSCI AC Asia ex Japan (AxJ) Index fell by 1.38% in USD terms in September. The Sino-US trade conflict and rising oil prices were key drags on performance. During the month, the US Federal Reserve raised rates for the third time this year as widely anticipated, amid positive economic data.

Asian Fixed Income Monthly Outlook - October 2018

In September, the US Federal Reserve (Fed) raised interest rates by 25 basis points (bps). The monetary authority removed the clause that policy rates are "accommodative", and modestly raised its growth forecasts for this year and next.

ESG Insights : Assessing Stranded Assets in the Electricity Sector

Nikko AM values companies based on their sustainable earnings capacity. Embedded in our research process is a consideration of all relevant risks that impact sustainable earnings and therefore have valuation implications. This obviously includes risk factors that fall within the ESG realm.

From the Australian Equities Desk - September 18

The S&P/ASX 200 Accumulation Index returned -1.8% during the month.

From the Australian Fixed Income Desk - September 18

The Australian bond market (as measured by the Bloomberg AusBond Composite 0+ Yr Index) was down 0.42% over the month.

Food Tech: Investing in the Sustainability of the Future

The late celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain once remarked that “Singapore is possibly the most food-centric place on Earth, with the most enthusiastic diners, the most varied and abundant, affordable dishes — available for cheap — on a per-square-mile basis.”

Finding Multi-Baggers From ESG Controversy

The NikkoAM Asia ex Japan equities team focuses on two core characteristics in our fundamental research; sustainability of returns and positive fundamental change.

As markets continue to grapple with the potential for a protracted trade war between China and the US, central banks have stuck to their task of setting monetary policy.

Another Conversation on ESG with a CIO

In my first article, I outlined our philosophy that ESG is fundamental to, and inseparable from, good investing. ESG is fully integrated into our investment process, because it is the right thing to do. We believe that one cannot claim to be a good fiduciary, mandated to create and preserve long-term wealth, while ignoring the principles of sustainable and responsible investing.

Asian Equity Monthly Outlook - September 2018

The MSCI AC Asia ex Japan (AxJ) Index fell by 1.02% in USD terms in August, largely on the back of currency weakness. Investor sentiments were driven by fears of an escalating trade war and risks of an emerging market contagion. During the month, the US Federal Reserve (Fed) left interest rates unchanged.

Asian Fixed Income Monthly Outlook - September 2018

In August, the US Treasury (UST) curve flattened. Near-term yields rose due to expectations of a September Federal Reserve (Fed) rate hike, while mid to long-dated yields fell. Escalating US-China trade tensions and the weaker-than-expected July US jobs report pushed UST yields lower at the start of the month.

Solid global economy and equity returns

Our updated house view is that the G-3 and Chinese economies will continue solid through September 2019 approximately in line with consensus expectations, while we expect central banks to reduce their accommodation similarly to consensus expectations.

ESG in the investment process

Wealthy individuals across generations are interested in investing for environmental or social impact, but Millennials are by far the most active in evaluating and indeed, demanding these strategies.

Promoting Client Interests

The Corporate Sustainability Department that Nikko Asset Management recently established embodies the Firm’s enduring commitment to integrating environmental, social, and governance (ESG) principles in every aspect of its operations.

From the Australian Fixed Income Desks - August 18

The Australian bond market (as measured by the Bloomberg AusBond Composite 0+ Yr Index) was up 0.81% over the month. The yield curve flattened as the spread between long-term and short-term bond yields narrowed.

From the Australian Equities desk - August 18

The S&P/ASX 200 Accumulation Index rose 1.4% during the month.

A Numbers Game: The Changing Face of Demographics

In 2011 a dramatic shift occurred throughout the developed world — working age populations began a multi-decade decline. Demographic shifts like this in an economy can have profound effects, including changes in growth and debt metrics.

August 2018 Australian Reporting Season: The Good, The Bad, and The Oddly

Confession season was eerily quiet leading into reporting season, unlike the noise from the Royal Commission and the incredible events out of Canberra, where another Prime Minister didn’t reach their full term.

The Nikko AM Australia Approach to Value Investing

Nikko AM Australia values companies based on their sustainable earnings capacity. That is, we determine the intrinsic value by capitalising the sustainable or mid-cycle earnings of every stock under coverage.

Trump Is Going To Hate This Trade Data

It was just reported that China’s exports to the U.S. accelerated 8% year-over-year in July while U.S. exports to China decelerated to 3% year-over-year.

John Vail, Chief Global Strategist for Nikko Asset Management, contributes a regular column to Forbes.com

China Continues to Mitigate its Macro Concerns

The macroeconomic issues that plague China are well known, but we believe that China is able to engineer a soft landing and to sustain growth, albeit at a lower level than it is used to.

Japan's 'Show Me The Money' Corporate Governance: Renewed Surge

After improving in the spring, the US trade imbalance is worsening again, especially vis a vis the Eurozone and China, with significant repercussions for international monetary and economic relations.

John Vail, Chief Global Strategist for Nikko Asset Management, contributes a regular column to Forbes.com

Global Credit Strategy: Midyear Review

We entered the year optimistic, and with the knowledge of the last six months, we are pleased that most of our expectations worked out.

Value vs. Growth and the Divergence to the Extreme

All major value equity indices show that the last five years, and in particular the last 12 months, have been a challenge for value as a style.

Too Much Pessimism About China-US Talks

Nearly every expert seems to be pessimistic about any progress being made during the US-China talks this week, citing the “low level delegations” attending, but there are many signs from both sides of an incipient deal, not to mention the obvious economic and political incentives to achieve such.

For Jackson Hole: Using MBS, The Fed Can Slow The Economy With Fewer Rate Hikes

The Fed, led by Chairman Powell, will very likely resist any effort by the White House to pressure it into halting rate hikes.

John Vail, Chief Global Strategist for Nikko Asset Management, contributes a regular column to Forbes.com

Recent moves by the Chinese government to further liberalize its fund management industry have generated a lot of interest with some observers projecting that China will overtake the UK to be the second-largest asset management market.

Uncovering Value in Japanese Equities

Global equity markets rallied throughout 2017 without any major setbacks. With volatility at extreme lows, it could be said that 2017 was an unusually fortunate year for market participants in terms of risk and reward.

Erdogan Takes It All

In the past few years, Turkey has faced some of the most monumental challenges in its recent history.

Financial markets continue to come to terms with a more protectionist and less globalised world. The surprise perhaps is not that tariffs have finally been imposed by the US on its trading partners, but that it took so long for a key campaign promise to become reality in spite of Republican control of the House, the Senate and the White House since November 2016.

Will Bloomberg's Index Become the First to Include Chinese Bonds?

In March 2018, Bloomberg announced a conditional decision to include Chinese bonds in its flagship bond index: Bloomberg Barclays Global Aggregate, starting from April 2019.

Forbes: U.S. Trade Deals Could Likely Happen Soon

It may seem an optimistic view, but conditions seem to be shaping up for some major trade compromises relatively soon.

John Vail, Chief Global Strategist for Nikko Asset Management, contributes a regular column to Forbes.com

It seems that China does not wish to compromise with the U.S., but neither does it wish to retaliate strongly to the $200BB of additional tariffs. Since it does not wish to “lose face” in giving this light response, it is putting a positive spin on its actions by saying it wishes to be the leader of the free trade movement.

John Vail, Chief Global Strategist for Nikko Asset Management, contributes a regular column to Forbes.com

LatAm Elections: The Lure of the Left

Our London-based Emerging Market fixed income portfolio manager provides an update for Latin American markets in the midst of a hectic election schedule. Despite the risks, pro-market reforms should still progress to varying degrees across the region.

Uncertainty surrounding Trump policy has reached new highs with global trade wars back on. Steel and aluminium tariff exemptions have been allowed to lapse for Canada, Mexico and Europe, and USD 50 billion in new technology-focused tariffs against China will be detailed by mid-June and imposed shortly thereafter.

Has China Outgrown the EM Umbrella

Considering the unique profile of the market and how much China influences the global economy, a decision about China could be the most important call an investor can make at this time.

Happy Birthday ECB

The ECB recently celebrated its 20-year anniversary and instead of a birthday cake, DB research released a compelling chart about how different asset classes have performed over this time period.

House View: Global Economic Rebound And Equity Reflation

Despite uninspiring global equity performance in the last three months, at least for USD-based investors, Nikko AM’s Global Investment Committee continues to be positive on global equities on a one-year view, particularly those in Japan, Europe and the Asia Pacific, but remain unenthusiastic on global bonds.

Where Are We With Corporate Governance In Japan?

Japan’s corporate governance reforms have progressed slowly but surely and the recent revision of the code will add momentum for the unwinding of cross-shareholdings.

Forbes: Japan's 'Show Me The Money' Corporate Governance Update

Japanese profit margins continued roughly flat in the 1Q, but at a high plateau due to improved corporate governance over the past years. With global economic growth pushing up the top line, profits should continue to rise significantly in the quarters ahead.

John Vail, Chief Global Strategist for Nikko Asset Management, contributes a regular column to Forbes.com

China MSCI Inclusion Has Room to Grow

The much anticipated MSCI A Share inclusion happened on 31 May 2018 and will pave the way for further internationalisation of China’s stock markets.

The Case for Private Infrastructure Investing

We believe that long-term oriented institutional investors could find investing into private infrastructure via actively managed funds an attractive investment proposition.

After depreciating for over 18 months, the US dollar has managed to make a comeback, recouping its 5% YTD loss in a matter of weeks. Coupled with 10 year US Treasury (UST) yields hovering around 3%, this has put pressure on Emerging Markets (EM).

Thoughts From the Journey

It has often been the conversations I have had with the people along the way which I have found most helpful when it has come to making investment decisions. This article aims to tell some of their stories and how apparently chance encounters can help generate investment ideas.

Forbes: The Contours Of A China-U.S. Agreement

Recent events have shed some light on a likely China-U.S. agreement fairly soon. Key to such was Trump’s order for ZTE’s sanctions to be lightened so that it can remain in business.

John Vail, Chief Global Strategist for Nikko Asset Management, contributes a regular column to Forbes.com

China Brands Muscle MNCs Out of Home Turf

Chinese companies are now a force to be reckoned with on their home turf – a market which used to be dominated by foreign brands. This report looks at how the change has come about and where Chinese brands are headed.

As much as we would prefer to discuss market fundamentals over the trials and tribulations of the current US Administration, it has been largely unavoidable in this first quarter of 2018.

Beijing conference takeaway: It is clear that while China is set for lower economic growth this year, this decrease represents a welcome central government focus on creating a cleaner, more efficient economy.

Forbes: 2% U.S. Core Inflation Achieved Very Early

In its March meeting, the midpoint of the FOMC’s projection for the Core PCE price index did not hit 2.0% until 2019. However, it seems likely to occur in the upcoming March reading. Meanwhile, today's Core CPI already exceeded 2.0%.

John Vail, Chief Global Strategist for Nikko Asset Management, contributes a regular column to Forbes.com

How ASEAN's 3Rs Can Overcome Trade Wars

Our portfolio manager in Singapore explains why ASEAN might well benefit from the current US-China trade tensions and how the region’s three main strengths should keep economic growth strong.

Forbes: Trump Is Going To Hate This Trade Data

Not only did the US trade deficit expand in February, it showed particularly disturbing trends regarding the Eurozone and China.

John Vail, Chief Global Strategist for Nikko Asset Management, contributes a regular column to Forbes.com

China's Move from Factory of the World to Silicon Valley of the East

With its advantages of a vast talent pool, financing and market access, China has most of the ingredients needed to transform into the “Silicon Valley of the East”

Global Ramifications of the Eurozone’s Huge Trade Surplus

Many economists and currency analysts, after years of ignoring such “old fashioned” indicators, are now talking about the massive trade surplus that the Eurozone enjoys with the world, but in particular with the US.

Markets continue to come to terms with the return of higher volatility, triggered ostensibly by fears of inflation and the unwinding of highly leveraged short volatility positions at the beginning of last month.

Forbes: Revisions Show U.S. Industrial Mini-Recession In 2015

Actually, it has not been one long expansion since 2009, as we now can see how the slumping oil price caused a mini-recession a few years back.

John Vail, Chief Global Strategist for Nikko Asset Management, contributes a regular column to Forbes.com

LatAm Elections: The Lure of the Left

Our London-based Emerging Market fixed income analyst predicts increased volatility ahead for Latin American markets due to the threat of Leftist election victories this year, but that pro-market reforms will still progress.

House View: Continued Global Economic and Equity Reflation

Our updated view remains positive on the global economy and equity markets even as global bond yields rise a bit further. Our SPX target remains near 3000 by year end, with impressive gains elsewhere too.

Japan’s “Show Me the Money” Corporate Governance

In my view, Japan is the only major country that is going through a structural improvement in corporate governance, and, thus, deserves special attention by global investors.

In our 2018 outlook, we made the case for rising volatility as central banks across the developed world slowly remove the stimulus punch bowl, but few would have imagined volatility spiking with such a vengeance as it did in recent weeks.

Italian Elections: More of the Same Political Dysfunction

Poor economic and fiscal policies are, and will likely be, a recurring theme in Italian politics. However, from a trade perspective, we see Italy to remain a good carry/spread trade for at least the next twelve months against a backdrop of improving GDP growth in 2018 and 2019.

Forbes: 2% U.S. Core Inflation In Sight

Today's very high Core CPI result is one more indication that inflation is rising.

John Vail, Chief Global Strategist for Nikko Asset Management, contributes a regular column to Forbes.com

Forbes: The BOJ: Kuroda Again, But What's New?

The Japanese media are widely reporting that Governor Kuroda will be reappointed, which surprises very few people. Whether he wishes to finish his new five-year term is open to question, so the choice of Deputy Governor will likely be important.

John Vail, Chief Global Strategist for Nikko Asset Management, contributes a regular column to Forbes.com

Australian Household Debt — The Economic Cost of High House Prices

Over the past 15 years Australian house prices have been on an incredible run, resulting in Australian households becoming some of the most indebted in the world. So what is the economic cost of Australia’s sky high property prices and what could it mean for property prices in 2018?

Forbes: The New Fed And Why The MBS Market Will Likely Suffer

Both Fed candidates support tapering MBS holdings faster than the current plan. This would likely raise mortgage rates and tame US housing prices, which are likely rising too fast for comfort.

John Vail, Chief Global Strategist for Nikko Asset Management, contributes a regular column to Forbes.com

MSCI Inclusion of Domestic ‘A’ Shares is China's Grand Entrance onto World Stage

Imagine a day when "Asia ex-China" portfolios are the norm. We think this is not too far-fetched an idea.

Forbes: Why Loretta Mester Should Be Fed Vice Chair

“Even though Mester is often perceived as a hawk, she is quite centrist in the current environment.”

John Vail, Chief Global Strategist for Nikko Asset Management, contributes a regular column to Forbes.com

2018 Japan Equity Outlook

With the Nikkei Index breaching the 24,000 mark, its highest level in 26 years, Japan appears to have put its “lost decade” of growth well behind it.

Over the past few years, one of the main risks that concerned our team was the possibility that asset classes could become positively correlated.

From freezing the bubble to a beautiful China

A flying visit into China post the 19th Party Congress seemed like a good idea. I got the sense that post the conference, visibility and direction over the next five years was reasonably clear. But it is more difficult to hold a similar view for 2018.

2018 Emerging Markets Outlook

Our Senior Portfolio Manager for Emerging Markets in London forecasts that in 2018, this asset class could well match 2017’s achievement.

2018 Developed Markets Outlook

For 2018 and beyond, we see a story of central bank policy normalization and foresee the global economy growing in a similar fashion to how it did in 2017: low growth coupled with comparatively low inflation data.

2018 Global Credit Outlook

We see the key investment themes to drive performance in Global Credit in 2018 to be similar to last year. We have developed our investment themes: Long US High Yield, Long Chinese Tier1 SOEs, Long European Hybrids, Long European Financials, Long Rising Stars.

Will Plan Sponsors Be Ready for China A Shares?

China has not yet been fully incorporated into indices, creating a mismatch and a unique challenge to investors in navigating this new world order.

Despite geopolitical risks and central banks that will be less dovish than the market expects, the Global Investment Committee forecasts that the G-3 economies will grow faster than consensus and that global equity markets will remain very bullish in the intermediate term.

What lies ahead in 2018 – Thoughts of a Kiwi bond manager

Low global inflation and, until recently, a strong Kiwi dollar have kept New Zealand’s inflation rate low over many years, however things may be about to change.

South Africa at a Crossroads

The imminent party election will be crucial in determining this major Emerging Market’s future.

Shale to the Chief: Can US Shale Oil Keep Up the Growth?

Having recently returned from the US, Stefan Hansen, Senior Research Analyst at Nikko AM Australia, shares his thoughts on US shale oil production and the potential impact on the oil price.

Japan’s “Show Me the Money” Corporate Governance

The implications of a surprising decline in non-manufacturers’ profit margin.

Canada and Australia are not the same

From an economic perspective Canada and Australia share some common features, but we would caution that the performance of the two economies is substantially different than generalisations would suggest.

Uncertainty in Germany – What are the options?

Even as the situation in Germany to form a new government is difficult, financial markets have reacted very mildly to the uncertainties.

May's Position in Question?

We think it is unlikely that May will be replaced within her own party. This is because there is a lack of an heir-apparent, and the Conservative Party would be extremely reluctant to even slightly increase the risk of another election.

Forbes: Powell & Some Fed Board Nightmare Scenarios

“Hopefully for the markets, the Fed transition will be smooth, but it might not be and hawkish Presidents may have much greater influence.”

John Vail, Chief Global Strategist for Nikko Asset Management, contributes a regular column to Forbes.com

New Zealand's New Centre-Left Government Makes for Uncertain Times

Just as politics in other developed countries have recently taken on a more populist and/or anti-capitalist tone, so too has New Zealand’s.

Abe’s New Bull Market in Equities and Home Values

The Case for Abenomics and global reflation leading to a TOPIX level of 2500 in two years’ time.