We expect that profit margins will expand further in coming quarters, driven by a large corporate tax cut and continued industry rationalizations that further prove that Japan's structural profitability trend continues upward.
We do not expect the recent steepening of the bund yield curve to be the beginning of a sustained new trend. Moreover, Eurozone and German economic data, albeit improving, are not sufficient to support the higher bund yields on a sustained basis.
Since the Fed starting hinting at the normalization of interest rates a year ago, Asian central banks' foreign reserve accumulations - except for India and Hong Kong - have either incurred substantial losses or remained flat.
With many markets having rallied from major support levels when they were in highly oversold positions, we believe that bond markets should stabilise or rally from current levels.
Yields of the US Treasuries (USTs) traded in a relatively tight range, eventually ending higher at month-end. At 2.03%, the 10-year point on the UST curve was up 11 basis points (bps) compared to the level at end-March.
The MSCI AC Asia ex-Japan returned 7.2% in April after shrugging off initial weakness and outperformed the MSCI AC World by 2.3% in April in USD terms.
The Japanese stock market has continued to rise, punctuated by the Nikkei 225 recently closing above 20,000 points for the first time in 15 years.
We expect that Japanese pension funds will continue to shift their investments into risky assets in 2015.
Oil-producing countries have seen the largest drop in their foreign exchange (FX) holdings over the last year. In our view, Saudi Arabia can afford to handle oil prices at their current level for some time but ...
The importance of President Xi Jinping's strong leadership cannot be stressed enough. Under him China is undergoing dramatic changes. While the most thorough cleansing of state corruption is ongoing, elements of China's grand strategy are becoming more evident both domestically and on the global stage.
Prices of the US Treasuries (USTs) ended March higher, with 2-year and 10-year USTs yields closing the month 6 basis points (bps) and 7bps lower respectively.
The MSCI Asia-Pacific ex-Japan returned -0.3% in March after shrugging off initial weakness and outperformed the MSCI AC World by 1.3% in March in USD terms.
The market isn't overheating even though the Nikkei stock average touched the 20,000 level, nor do we believe that overseas markets are overheating right now.
With the dollar/yen hovering around JPY120 to the U.S. dollar, Japanese stocks have recently been showing extraordinary strength, marked by the Nikkei 225 breaching the JPY20,000 level on April 10 for the first time in roughly 15 years – a level that it retook on 22 April and has stayed close to ever since.
Defaults from Chinese companies have been on the headlines recently. First, the default of property developer Kaisa Group last Monday (20 April 2015) was expected given the challenges in the ongoing debt restructuring.
Due to the developments described in this article, there is ample room for growth at Japanese firms and much opportunity for investment success.
Given the significant proportion of real estate investment as a percentage of GDP, as well as the proportion of local government revenue generated from land sales, the property market remains a crucial driver of the Chinese economy.
The March “tankan” survey results are not expected to lead to the BOJ's further acceleration of QE.
Interest rate and foreign exchange volatility has begun to increase as the market anticipates the time when the US Federal Reserve will start to reduce monetary accommodation and raise interest rates.
In sum, there certainly are some worrisome issues, as always, but we find none of them convincing enough to prevent moderate increases in equity prices.
Much as we expected, China's economy has continued to slow faster than consensus, but does not appear to be in a hard landing.
Central Banks: Despite firm economic growth, we believe that a negative YoY CPI through September will steady the Fed's hand.
Coupled with our expectation for global bond yields to rise moderately, we maintain our overweight view on global equities vs. bonds.
The recovery in profits by Japanese export firms should continue to attract the attention of the markets in the first half of 2015.
Prices of the US Treasuries (USTs) weakened in February, with yields of the 10-year USTs higher by about 35 basis points (bps).
The MSCI Asia Pacific ex-Japan gained 3.71% but underperformed the MSCI World which gained 6.43% in SGD terms. The MSCI World’s strong performance was attributable to the supportive external backdrop with improving economic indicators out of Europe.
John Vail updates his long-standing theme: Japan's Successful “Show Me the Money” Corporate Governance.
Through 2014, one of the largest asset classes in the world was virtually unnoticed as an indicator that Europe is not pushing the global economy into widespread deflation.
There are several credible reasons to expect that QE will boost corporate earnings in Europe, though by not as much as in the US. However the risk of disappointment relative to inflated expectations remains high.
In 2015, markets will be looking for any pick up in European and Japanese inflation as a result of their QE programmes. With growth picking up, we may start to see signs of a rise in US inflation.
The disappointing economic data should not worry investors in Japanese risk assets very much at all.
The key theme of the past few years has been quantitative easing. Although the US has come to the end of its version of this experiment, QE programmes have begun or are about to begin in Japan and Europe.
US Treasuries (USTs) rallied in January, with the 10-year UST yield ending the month at 1.64% which was 53 basis points (bps) lower than end-December.
Asia Pacific ex-Japan markets outperformed its global peers, registering a return of 3.8% in SGD terms as compared to the MSCI World index which gained only 0.4% in SGD terms, primarily due to the stronger Greater China region and Indian markets which were the best performing markets in January.
According to the 2014 Labour Survey recently released by Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, total cash earnings – i.e., the total of contractual cash earnings (such as fixed monthly salaries) and other special cash earnings (such as bonuses) – of Japanese workers rose 0.8% in 2014, the first such rise in four years.
In a pre-GFC and pre-QE world, zero or negative interest rates on a German, Japanese or US 10-year bond would have been considered highly implausible. However...
We expect the next phase of the global evolution to be driven by a growing global population, rapid urbanisation and for most of it to happen in emerging markets with increasing focus on "green" development.
ECB's QE: The major question is, will this program work given the European model of debt creation is via the banking system and not the bond markets?
The steel industry and its underlying iron ore industry are witnessing excess production and deflationary forces that are similar to the global energy markets.
The QE announcement was a major step forward for Eurozone. It is not without dangers and questions about implementation, however, so markets should not get over-enthusiastic about it.
Now that oil prices have declined, if a central bank targets its overall CPI at 2.0% for 2015, it would likely be labeled as being overly aggressive and perhaps attempting to unfairly weaken its currency.
As the Fed continues to unwind its stimulus, even amidst threats of global deflation, there are hopes that China will accelerate the liberalization of its capital account and take over the Fed's role as the global supplier of liquidity.
US Treasuries (UST) had a volatile trading month in December and ended the periodwith the 5- and 10-year UST yields 17 basis points (bps) and 0.7bps higher compared to November.
Asia Pacific ex-Japan markets did better than other emerging markets, posting a negative return of 2.1% in USD terms as compared to the latter which returned -4.6% in USD terms as it was dragged down by Russia.
We expect oil prices to rebound and for the time being, we will stick with our call for Brent to rebound to $72 by end-June 2015, although $65 is a more plausible goal.
Asia credit recovered strongly in 2014. Long duration bonds gained as the intermediates and long-end US Treasury (UST) yields fell in response to disappointing growth outcomes elsewhere in the world even as the shortend of the curve began adjusting to rate hike expectation in the US.
It is that time of year again when those in the investment business (unfairly referred to as the ‘chattering class’) share their prognostications on the path of asset classes for 2015.
Clearly, oil prices have fallen further than nearly everyone anticipated. When our Global Investment Committee met in December, Brent was trading at $66.
The overall CNH bond market gained 3.02% in local terms in 2014. Both sovereigns and credits delivered positive returns of 2.6% and 3.14%, respectively.
Through the careful examination of historical data, it is possible to empirically affirm the existence of several anomalies in the stock market, even though there is not always a clear theory or explanation as to why they exist.
As of the end of September 2014, Japanese household financial assets totalled ¥1,654 trillion* (approx. US$15 trillion), representing an on-year increase of ¥44 trillion (approx. US$401 billion), or 2.7%, and surpassing the previous high of ¥1,645 trillion (approx. US$16 trillion**) recorded at the end of June 2014.
Supply-side shocks and market distortions have created a degree of uncertainty over the short to medium-term outlook for the New Zealand dairy industry.
Brazil can no longer continue as “business as usual” and it is at an important crossroads as to whether it can exit the well-known “middle income country trap.” Domestic issues aside, EMs will continue to encounter major headwinds as an asset class in early 2015 due to negative stories from large countries, such as Brazil and Russia.
These reforms coupled with strong balance sheets and demographics will support higher levels of global growth for decades to come.
The investment world is changing quickly and 2015 should prove to be a very interesting year, but we see no reason to change our long-held positive view on global equities.
Recently, two major voices in the "core Fed" (Fischer and Dudley) have indicated that despite low inflation, the Fed's main scenario is to begin hiking rates in mid 2015.
China's economy likely slowed much more than the official statistics show; otherwise, the government would not have reversed course on its various crackdowns, especially on the property market.
Our Global Investment Committee always seems to meet in the middle of great volatility, and this time was no exception, with the investment world facing all sorts of new challenges.
In our view, the LDP coalition's maintenance of a strong two-thirds majority in this election will greatly help Prime Minister Abe and his party's reform efforts, while likely bolstering Yen weakness to some degree.
US Treasuries (UST) ended the month stronger, trading within a relatively tight range for most of November. At month-end, 10-year UST was yielding at 2.16%, 18 basis points (bps) lower than October.
Asia Pacific ex-Japan markets were volatile in November, with the MSCI Asia Pacific ex-Japan Index down 1.3%, dragged down by MSCI Australia Index which returned -6.3% in USD terms.
Asia is evolving rapidly, which has implications for investors globally. It should no longer be viewed as just a cheap manufacturing hub, but a region with high value-added industries catering to an increasingly wealthy middle class.
As we move further away from the turbulent period between 2007 and 2009, interest in credit has increased rapidly as investors globally search for extra return in a low yield environment.
If the RBA does cut interest rates, it is likely that they will make more than one cut, so we could see Australia's official cash rate at 2.00% by the second quarter of 2015.
Many empirical studies have shown that a value style approach to investing in Australian shares has consistently outperformed growth investing - and with less risk.
The three main points from our prior report on this topic have not changed; however, there are a few more anomalies in the data this time.
The Japanese equity market for the most part maintained a strong tone in 2014, with the Nikkei Stock Average at one point in December rising intra-day above JPY18,000 - a level it had not seen since July 2007.
With a slowdown in consumer demand following the April consumption tax hike, a second straight quarter of negative GDP growth in July-September, and unseasonably cold weather resulting in an even further drag on consumption, Japan appears to be only halfway through to achieving its goals of putting an end to deflation and reviving the economy.
Growth continues to be a strong theme in Asia making the case for investing in the region a compelling one. The Asia ex-Japan (AxJ) region has more than doubled its share of the global economy since the Asian financial crisis.
2014 has become a landmark year for green bonds, having become one of the few sustainable investment instruments to reach a suitable scale and poised to enter the mainstream for global institutional investors.
Equity investors should not fret too much about weak macro data, as Japanese companies have been able to overcome such for nearly a decade through rationalization and improved corporate governance.
Moody's downgrade of Japan to A1 will likely have very little effect on bond yields, the economy or risk-asset psychology. The major reason why is due to its odd premise of predicting too much success of Abenomics, while most market observers are not so optimistic.
Three important things to know about the recently announced Japanese GDP statistics that indicated that the country was in a recession.
We examined the relationship between a country's working age population and its listed company corporate earnings for ten nations, and found that the relationship is ambiguous at best, with correlations ranging from positive to strongly negative.
US Treasuries (UST) rallied in October – a month that saw dramatic movements across asset classes. The US Federal Reserve (Fed) ended its bond-buying program following the October policy meeting.
Asia ex-Japan markets bounced back towards the end of October returning 2% for the month in USD terms and outperforming the MSCI World index by 1.4%.
Amid the continued recovery in the U.S. economy and announcements of strong economic indicators, the Federal Reserve Board announced on 29 October its decision to discontinue its programme of asset purchasing and quantitative monetary easing.
Amid continued downward pressure on prices, the Bank of Japan (BOJ) decided to ratchet up its quantitative and qualitative easing program at its Monetary Policy Meeting on 31 October.
Although there are potential flashpoints, there are some areas where the US President may be more willing to cooperate with the new Congress — such as being awarded the authority to fast track trade agreements, particularly the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP)
We have long reported on the role of the wealth effect, as its importance is vastly underestimated by local and foreign investors. The 2Q data for net financial assets shows a QoQ increase to a new historical high.
Update on Japan’s “Show me the Money” corporate governance — the dividend paid by TOPIX continues to rise towards its historic high, but the payout ratio has been stagnant for the past few months, as earnings continue to rally equally well.
Is political democracy good for economic growth and ultimately, stock markets in Asia? Indisputably, sound political systems are crucial for economic development and progress.
Our house view is that non-economic factors played the largest role in the recent market turbulence. We discuss these below and forecast their future development.
Physical credit spreads have remained at reasonably tight levels due to the ongoing search for yield — although global uncertainty in the Middle East, fears about Ebola, and re-emerging concerns about Europe have generated negative sentiment.
The Australian economy seems to be struggling to achieve traction as the mining boom transitions from a capital expenditure phase to a shipment phase.
Prior to the global financial crisis, nearly $17 trillion of developed nation bonds were rated AAA. Now there are less than $2 trillion. Not only has supply been restricted, but also diversity, with the number of AAA rated countries falling from 15 to 9.
In its September Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) statement, the US Federal Reserve (Fed) renewed its pledge to keep interest rates near zero for a considerable time after its quantitative easing (QE) program ends in October.
Asia Pacific markets succumbed to profit-taking after registering seven consecutive months of positive USD based returns. The MSCI Asia Pacific ex-Japan Index was down 7.2% for the month in USD terms as the strengthening dollar magnified the loss.
Since the start of October, the Japanese stock market has shown weak performance. Heightened concerns over the worsening economic climates in Europe and China and less bullish forecasts on the U.S. economic recovery drove stocks in Europe and the U.S. sharply down, with the Japanese market following suit.
The currency markets in September saw a sharp weakening of the yen and strengthening of the U.S. dollar, with the yen starting the month trading at about 104 to the dollar, but weakening to about 109 by the end of the month.
The Japanese stock market made large gains starting from the end of 2012, but concerns over geopolitical risk in Ukraine and potential debt default in Argentina led to market sentiment weakening from the beginning of 2014.
A confluence of factors worked against the Australian market during the month. Regulatory concerns in the banking sector, lower commodity prices and a weaker Australian dollar were the key drivers of the market’s underperformance.
Much as we expected, China’s economy has continued to slow faster than consensus, but does not appear to be in a hard landing.
In the Australian credit market, the relative lack of supply compared with demand continues to cause spreads to tighten in the physical market offsetting the risks of an unstable geopolitical environment.
Reasons for the recent weakness in the AUD include a fall in the iron ore price, the rally in the US dollar, weaker Chinese data, and indications that the Reserve Bank of Australia is considering macroprudential controls.
Improving the number of independent directors and other governance issues are very important in the intermediate term for Japan, but it is crucial for investors to understand that much of the profitability message has already been understood by Japanese corporate for nearly a decade.
Japan’s pipeline inflation, which we measure using the recently renamed Producer Price Index’s Finished Consumer Goods for Domestic Demand sub-component continued to be quite depressed in August.
Japan’s 2Q GDP growth, at -7.1% QoQ SAAR, was far below June’s consensus of -3.1% (and our -2.5% estimate) and we need to reduce our CY14 forecast, but not by much and we remain more optimistic than consensus.
Although not a Goldilocks scenario, our forecasted macro-backdrop is quite positive for global equities.
G-3 bond yields rose less than we predicted, mostly due to continued ECB aggressiveness, worries about the Chinese economy and the decline in oil prices.