Investment Insights

 

BOJ stands pat on policy but paves way for future rate hikes

The Bank of Japan kept interest rates steady as expected while upping its CPI forecast, paving the way for future rate hikes. Any further hawkish stance by the BOJ may depend on the persistence of positive real wages and inflation's impact on consumer purchasing power.
Inflation uncertainty seems increasingly entrenched, which is less kind to developed market sovereign bonds. The US fiscal deficit is very large, and the Federal Reserve (Fed) is now in the challenging position of deciding when to cut rates. Energy remains a good hedge in this environment, and gold is increasingly being recognised as a store of value.
The Chinese economy and its equity market continue to be significant focal points in broader Asia. Additional support measures, combined with a recalibration of market expectations, have helped Chinese equities recover from the panic selling witnessed towards the end of 2023 and into January. As a result, fundamental strengths are being recognised in certain areas.
We maintain a positive outlook for Asian local government bonds, particularly those from India, Indonesia and the Philippines. In our view, the disinflation trends in these countries should provide their central banks with the flexibility to shift towards rate cuts later in the year.

Of volcanic activity and Asian fixed income markets

We highlight the importance of making decisions based on probabilities and the best expected outcomes, assessing relevant information and acting ahead in constantly changing market conditions.

Navigating Japan Equities: Monthly Insights From Tokyo (April 2024)

The Bank of Japan (BOJ) lifted interest rates for the first time in 17 years in March, making a historic departure from negative interest rates. We provide an overall evaluation of its decision, discuss how long accommodative monetary conditions could still last, analyse the yen’s potential policy impact and assess the BOJ’s options after halting ETF purchases.

Global Investment Committee’s outlook: stronger for longer

The Global Investment Committee sees robust corporate earnings, firm employment and expectations for rate cuts keeping markets more buoyant than anticipated by average consensus estimates.

Future Quality Insights: healthcare offers diversification from market hot spots

We remain very strong supporters of the healthcare sector. In addition to the well-known demographic drivers, innovation is enabling structural changes in healthcare delivery and in our view these changes will confer years of strong organic growth opportunities if we choose the right companies.
Japanese households, long under-invested in financial markets, are expected to play a significant part in the country’s “virtuous circle” of reflation as they seek returns capable of keeping up with inflation.

Trump vs. Biden II: what implications could the US election have for sustainable fixed income?

The stage is now set for a Biden versus Trump rematch in November. So, what does this mean for sustainable bonds?
Improving economic dynamics defy conventional logic of what one would expect from one of the most aggressive tightening cycles in history. However, if one considers the magnitude of the 2020 expansion in money supply, there is still significant excess liquidity, perhaps transmitting to resilient demand and cash flow that so far exceeds the headwinds of higher rates.
We think that there could be some short-term rebound in China as valuations are in extreme oversold territory. However, for the rally to be more sustainable, we are monitoring for a few drivers, including supply-side measures that can resolve China’s main housing issues.
We maintain a positive outlook for Asian local government bonds, particularly India, Indonesia and Philippine bonds. In our view, the disinflation trends in these countries should provide the Reserve Bank of India, Bank Indonesia and Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas with the flexibility to shift towards rate cuts later in the year.
The Asian REIT market is the second-largest REIT market globally, but there is still plenty of room for growth. As REIT regulations and listing processes become increasingly market-friendly in newer REIT markets, we expect more asset owners to securitise their real estate into REIT products, driving greater investor interest.
The “trial balloons” of media announcements in advance of today’s interest rate hike by the Bank of Japan —its first in 17 years—apparently did their job, as the end of its negative interest rate policy, yield curve control and ETF purchases were smoothly digested by markets.

Assessing the impact of green bonds

The green bond market has experienced tremendous growth since 2007, but despite its rapid success, there are still barriers to overcome. In particular, assessing the impact of green bonds continues to be a contentious topic.

Nikkei reaches all-time high: five reasons the rally will endure

Japan equity was the best-performing asset class in 2023, but despite the Nikkei reaching all-time highs in 2024, Japan also recently experienced economic contraction. Against that backdrop, Japan Equity Investment Director Junichi Takayama offers five reasons why Japan’s economic resurgence still has ample runway.

Vietnam seeing a full turnaround in fortunes

We visited Vietnam in February and found that business and economic prospects have turned around completely for the better from a year ago. Interest rates have normalised, and mortgage terms are the most favourable that we have ever seen in Vietnam.

New Zealand Fixed Income Monthly – February 2024

The Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ) maintained the Official Cash Rate (OCR) at 5.5% at its latest Monetary Policy Committee meeting on 28 February, meaning that New Zealand’s interest rates have now been kept on hold for over nine months. We agree with the RBNZ’s decision to keep the OCR unchanged and feel that most indicators are moving in the central bank’s favour.

Navigating Japan Equities: Monthly Insights from Tokyo (March 2024)

This month we focus on the prospect of Japanese stocks sustaining their upward trajectory after reaching record highs; we also assess how the country’s Q4 GDP contraction sharpens the focus on consumption and wages in 2024.

Why we should pay special attention to Japan’s Q4 capex surge

One of Japan’s more recent economic releases made us sit up and take notice. Within the very resilient Q4 capital expenditure figures released this week was one important reinforcing indicator of Japan’s structural recovery, or in the Bank of Japan’s language, its “virtuous circle” of reflation. One near-term positive development for Japan is the very real possibility that the “technical recession” in Japan Q4 GDP (down 0.4% quarter-on-quarter) could be, thanks to unexpectedly strong Q4 capex, revised away.
This is the “swan song” of this report, which comes at an appropriate time because it was always meant to prove to readers that corporate governance, and the overall case for investing in Japanese equities, was sound. Now that the market’s performance and global enthusiasm for Japan has swelled, there is less need for the report, although it is useful to note the continuance of its impressive trend.
We explain how reflationary dynamics underpin the foundations of Japan’s incipient structural recovery and illustrate why we believe the country’s equity comeback should not be written off as another flash-in-the-pan cyclical upturn headed for an eventual return to deflationary dynamics.
The seemingly impossible soft landing on the back of one of the most aggressive monetary tightening cycles in history is looking not just possible, but increasingly probable. US data is coming in stronger and global demand is generally steady with increasing channels of potential upside.

Biodiversity is next for green bond expansion

Our economic system is based on a model of take, make and waste that consistently over-utilises and fails to replenish Earth’s valuable, but dwindling resources. The need to transform how we interact with nature creates a major opportunity for the green bond universe. So far, issuers have successfully embraced funding the transition toward carbon neutrality, but far fewer are looking at regenerative biodiversity projects or initiatives that seek to protect our ecosystems from loss.