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.