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7.08.2020 70

Investing in the first in, first out theme: opportunities in Asia

Published August 7, 2020

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The essential


  • Overview: The Asia region was the first part of the world to be hit by the Covid-19 outbreak, but it has also been the first region to navigate a way out of it, thanks to its good management of the pandemic and supported by fiscal and monetary actions. Strong fundamentals pave the way for a strong catch-up in Asia, driven by China.
  • Macro assessment: The economic outlook in the region remains quite heterogeneous across the countries in terms of the pace of the ongoing recovery. The main differences between countries have been the outbreak’s evolution and the policy accommodation put in place. China registered a strong V-shaped recovery in Q2. Headline GDP growth turned positive, to 3.2% YoY, up from -6.8% YoY in Q1. The rest of the region has been showing a gradual resumption in domestic activity since May, when major lockdown restrictions were lifted (fully or partially), and preliminary June data suggest that Asian economies have emerged from the dip in Q2, with a brightening export outlook.
  • The US-China relationship: Our central case on the trade relationship is that the agreement will hold for the time being. Nonetheless, on an almost daily basis we see news that tensions between the two countries are escalating and so we expect the US-China relationship to remain bumpy. Although political and policy uncertainties will remain high, sanction measures from the US and China’s retaliations are likely to remain targeted. The cost of the global financial system derailing from stability is so high that the US and China will refrain from overwhelming measures.
  • Equity views: Asian consumption and industrial output levels are showing signs of a continued uptick. Mobility data also indicates signs of a resumption in activity. The recovery could be uneven, but high frequency economic indicators are showing the first signs of an upturn. Asian corporates thus stands to benefit versus the rest of the world. We favour China and remain positive on some insulated countries, with stories of resilient domestic growth and progress in structural reforms. Across Asean countries, selective banks and staples could be the promising spots; we focus on Singapore, Indonesia and Thailand.
  • Fixed income and FX views: We expect continuous strong technicals in support of Asian debt,where we still favour countries with attractive positive real rates and credible central banks and governments. While we remain cautious on EMFX in general, Asian FX have actually outperformed other peers YTD due to a combination of improved reserve levels, stability in commodity prices and Asian central banks remaining quite active in monitoring their FX movements. We expect these to continue, lending further support to Asian FX.

 

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