The MSCI AC ex Japan (AxJ) Index returned 2.7% in USD terms in December, outperforming the MSCI AC World index which returned 1.4%.
As widely expected, the US Federal Reserve (Fed) raised interest rates by 25bps in December, its third rate hike this year. It also raised its GDP forecast for 2018.
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.
The Japanese equity market rose in December, with the TOPIX (w/dividends) climbing 1.57% on-month and the Nikkei 225 (w/dividends) rising 0.32%.
Our Senior Portfolio Manager for Emerging Markets in London forecasts that in 2018, this asset class could well match 2017’s achievement.
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.
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.
We expect the economic backdrop for Asian credits to remain constructive in 2018, but remain cognizant of several risks including rising interest rates, robust supply, unexpected weakness in China, geopolitical developments and cross-asset volatility.
The global recovery is expected to continue, albeit at a more moderate pace. Meanwhile, we foresee policy normalisation and an acceleration of inflation in Asia.
China has not yet been fully incorporated into indices, creating a mismatch and a unique challenge to investors in navigating this new world order.