Investment Insights

 
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.

The climate change megatrend

Although once-in-a-generation exceptional weather events now risk becoming alarmingly routine, there is still time to turn the tide. This need for immediate action is why we define climate change as an investment megatrend, and we believe Green and Sustainable Bonds have a vital role to play.

Energy security and Future Quality

Our Future Quality investment philosophy revolves around identifying companies that have pricing power, possess management teams that invest will appropriately, boast strong balance sheets and offer opportunities that are not yet priced in by the market. This approach will remain constant in 2024 although we are also acutely aware of the significant impact energy security will have on global decarbonisation efforts.
The Indian market remains attractive. It has the highest earnings growth in the Asian region, valuations that are in the middle of its historic range and an economy that is growing strongly with inflation under control.

New Zealand Fixed Income Monthly – January 2024

Despite continued struggles with inflation in New Zealand and elsewhere, our view is that the RBNZ’s next change to the OCR is likely to be downward, albeit at a later timing than the market has recently been expecting.

New Zealand Equity Monthly –January 2024

We view 2024 with optimism—markets could begin to be driven by company earnings rather than by inflation outcomes and interest rate expectations as they have in the past year, and New Zealand’s market is well placed to shrug off volatility experienced in 2023.
We expect an anticipated decrease in developed market bond yields, coupled with enhanced foreign inflows, to bolster demand for Asian bonds. We see Asia credit remaining well supported with subdued net new supply as issuers continue to access cheaper onshore funding.

The Future Quality approach to navigating the AI arms race

The emergence of AI has dramatically shifted the future pathway for the technology sector, and our research has found that this emerging structural trend chimes with our Future Quality principles.

Realigning fixed income with purpose

While fixed income issuance has become a standard mechanism for governments and companies to raise finance, it often lacks a defined purpose. However, the growing trend of responsible investing is changing that. The need to tackle our planet’s many climate, environmental and societal challenges is reuniting fixed income with its sense of purpose.

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

This month we discuss how emerging growth narratives such as semiconductors may come into focus in 2024; we also assess the slightly hawkish turn the BOJ took at its January policy meeting.

Japan’s reform measures pave the way for an exceptional 2024

Last year, global investors turned their attention firmly towards Japan as a way of increasing their Asia exposure while avoiding perceived geopolitical and regulatory risks linked to China, and amid the high inflation environment dominating western economies. But this year, Japan’s success is more based on its own merits.

The US economy continues to look robust, so we have stayed constructive on growth assets and short maturity global credit where yields are attractive. We still believe that the path to 2% inflation in the US is relatively unclear. If anything, our conviction on this point has increased because easier financial conditions may ultimately pave the way for the return of sticky inflation.

The peaking of interest rates and potentially the US dollar could be a boon for broader markets—particularly those more sensitive to liquidity, countries with more room to ease rates and areas where positive fundamental changes have been overlooked. China’s economy is undergoing a major transition into one that promotes advanced manufacturing, technology, self-sufficiency and higher-end overseas growth. These are areas of our focus.

We expect macro and corporate credit fundamentals across Asia ex-China to stay resilient due to fiscal buffers although slower economic growth seems to loom over the horizon.

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

This month we discuss why the equity market is relatively unaffected by the political scandal shaking Japan’s ruling party; we also assess how 2024 could become an inflection point in the country’s “savings to investments” drive.

Although we believe that the prospects for the economy remain mostly unchanged, the outlook is softer at the margins, perhaps reflecting the tightening of financial conditions seen during the recent months. Over the past month, however, financial conditions have eased considerably on the assumption of impending rate cuts.

New Zealand markets outlook 2024: the only certainty is more uncertainty

Given the volume of quality defensive companies with relatively high dividend yields, higher for longer interest rates are a significant headwind for New Zealand’s equity markets. Alongside these, the country’s globally-focused export companies will be looking for the global growth story to play out positively, but for the meantime will at least be enjoying a relatively weak New Zealand dollar.

Corporate governance reform points to opportunities ahead in Japan equities

Japan may not be known for quick, sweeping reforms. However, developments in the country’s corporate governance over the last 10 years suggest that once changes are set in motion, they can have a deep and lasting impact, raising the value of its companies and creating investment opportunities along the way.

Global Investment Committee’s outlook

We expect poor 1Q24 returns for MSCI World after the 4Q23 surge, but a more positive trend for the rest of 2024. Regionally, we much prefer Japan in the year ahead. Our view on global bonds for USD-based investors is that they are preferred during much of the 1H, but only marginally attractive in the 2H.

We expect sentiment toward Asia’s bond markets to turn increasingly positive in 2024. We also expect macro and corporate credit fundamentals across Asia ex-China to stay resilient on the back of fiscal buffers, although slower economic growth appears to loom over the horizon.

Despite short-term negatives, we believe that China continues to offer ample long-term growth opportunities as the country pivots towards advanced manufacturing and technology. Elsewhere, some of the best growth stories globally could be found in India and Indonesia, while Taiwan and South Korea are expected to continue benefitting from a modest upcycle as the semiconductor industry recovers.

Navigating Japan Equities: Monthly Insights from Tokyo (December 2023)

We discuss how a bullish year for Japan equities has brought what was previously out of sight into view and analyse focal points for the market as we head into 2024; we also assess how focusing on efficiency and growth could be the way forward for Japan given its projected drop in the GDP rankings.

Global multi-asset outlook 2024

Our investment themes for 2024 focus on key features of a world in transition. They include higher-for-longer rates, production shortages in natural resources and the search for new sources of productivity. Transitions are never easy, and features of the old world accustomed to low rates may not make it. We believe that some of these old-world features could pose systemic risks as “creative destruction” does not always run smoothly.

New Zealand Fixed Income Monthly – November 2023

Amid significantly negative returns in both the equity and fixed income markets at the end of last year, it was thought that 2023 would be the “year of the bond”. As we near the end of 2023, however, the bond market is still yet to live up to those expectations. Even so, our view is that the upswing for bonds has been deferred but not cancelled. Although cash has been king for the last two to three years, we believe bonds are now poised to take the crown.

New Zealand Equity Monthly – November 2023

November was a stronger month for equities given that central banks around the world began suggesting that interest rates have peaked. While we do not expect to see any rate cuts in the near term, investors appear to believe that the worst is over in terms of rate increases. That view has been beneficial for New Zealand’s equity market, which bounced back by about 4% in November.

Global equity outlook 2024

We are heading into a changing world, where the more recent past can no longer be relied on to guide our path forward. But we are not blindfolded. There are tools we can use to provide a greater degree of certainty. Our Future Quality approach is designed to help us identify franchises that are set to endure.

Global fixed income outlook 2024

We present our 2024 outlook for sustainable fixed income, core markets and credit markets.

Japan equity outlook 2024

We expect 2024 to be a year of domestic consolidation and long-term reform measures, where markets are driven more by Japan-specific events than by global factors. After decades of deflation, we see Japan as finally breaking out of this cycle in 2024, as it enters a virtuous cycle of price increases and wage hikes.

Asian credit outlook 2024

We expect fundamentals and technical backdrop for Asian credit to remain supportive in 2024. However, valuation is a challenge with current Asian high-grade spreads near historical lows. The myriad cyclical and structural factors driving the major sub-sectors within Asian high-yield credit makes it is difficult to call the overall spread direction in 2024, although the current spread level remains wide and offers room for compression over the medium term.

Global macro outlook 2024

Much like this report in 2023, global conditions will remain unique and defy a confident overall summary; thus, here are ten predictions on some particularly noteworthy factors.

Asian rates and FX outlook 2024

We expect 2024 to be a year of higher returns and lower volatility for Asian local government bonds as US Treasury yields are seen stabilising. We also see Asian currencies firming against the dollar in 2024 as the Federal Reserve’s rate hike cycle comes to an end.

Asian equity outlook 2024

Considering that major tech companies are profitable, cash rich and cannot afford to lose out in the highly competitive AI race, spending on high-end computing and neural networks looks set to continue in 2024. This will likely create a lasting boon to many component suppliers (the so-called picks and shovels of AI) across Asia.

ASEAN equity outlook 2024

We believe ASEAN will offer good pockets of growth and quality opportunities, as well as earnings resilience and protection amid some of the prevailing global macro headwinds.

Singapore equity outlook 2024

We believe that our “New Singapore” narrative focusing on sectors and companies that represent the future of the city-state will remain relevant in 2024. Energy transition has risen to prominence within the New Singapore narrative in addition to data, technology, healthcare, logistics, tourism and food solutions.

China equity outlook 2024

For those willing to brave immediate challenges, we believe China will continue to offer long-term opportunities as the country has been working to become technologically self-sufficient and develop high-end technologies on its own in a more challenging regulatory environment.

The just-released 3Q CY23 data on Japan’s aggregate corporate profits was a bit mixed, but the overall corporate recurring pre-tax profit margin surged to a record high on a four-quarter average. The non-financial service sector rose to another record high, but the manufacturing sector fell further from its record high.

We have held on to our view that the “higher for longer” narrative is not necessarily bad for equities, as robust earnings are supported by a US economy that continues to grow at above-trend rates. However, we are also sympathetic to the de-rating process where earnings look simply less attractive compared to higher rates across the yield curve.

We expect macro and corporate credit fundamentals across Asia ex-China to stay resilient with fiscal buffers, although slower economic growth appears to loom over the horizon.

Future Quality Insights -November 2023-New regime, new learning

The last few quarters have been a good reminder that we are in a changing world. As a result, we need to focus always on investing in enduring franchises and we would suggest that our Future Quality approach is soundly placed in that regard. We also need to approach monetary policy with an open mind—sometime soon the central banks could change the game again. In surfing parlance, be ready with your trusted board and make the most of the conditions.

Credit spreads: not as tight as they seem

Recently many fixed income investors have experienced steep price declines in their bond portfolios. We have argued that it is not only duration that explains the interest risk of a portfolio, but that convexity needs to be accounted for as well. In this paper we point out that credit risk measures also have to be adjusted in an environment of declining bond prices.

New Zealand Equity Monthly – October 2023

In one of the most significant changes surrounding New Zealand’s equity market in recent years, the general election held in October delivered a change of government. Overall business sentiment has been generally positive after the election result. The outcome has been favourable for the aged care sector and building-exposed names. On the other hand, it has thrown up some uncertainties over the future of New Zealand’s environmental policy.

New Zealand Fixed Income Monthly – October 2023

The general election held in October resulted in a change in government for New Zealand. Although it is difficult to gain a full picture at this stage, we can make some key observations on monetary policy: the Reserve Bank of New Zealand’s mandate could be pared back to ensure that its sole focus is on managing inflation.

Navigating Japan Equities: Monthly Insights from Tokyo (November 2023)

We analyse the Bank of Japan’s decision to further tweak its yield curve control scheme amid the latest developments hinting at sustained wage growth; we also assess why an acute labour shortage could be a golden opportunity for Japan Inc. to change structurally.

While the risk-off environment stretched into another month, we are still finding plenty of positives in Asia. India’s macro remains favourable; Chinese equity markets are near the cheapest in 20 years; and the semiconductor industry is showing signs of a bottoming. With the US potentially having reached peak interest rates, this could be a welcome backdrop for Asian markets going forward.

China and India’s contrasting inflation front

We explore the opportunities and risks emanating from China’s near-zero inflation and India’s above-average consumer prices.

Defying seemingly broad sentiment that a slowdown is coming, the US economy continues to chug along, and bond yields are continuing to wake up to the monetary reality that long-term rates need to be repriced accordingly. The adjustment has been aggressive and fast. Still, there is a natural limit to these types of moves.

Modern versus traditional alpha

Modern alpha relies on multiple sources and is therefore more stable and recurring than the traditional “big bets”. For most investors, the main source of alpha is fundamental research. But to add stability it is plausible to combine fundamental research with quantitative strategies as an additional alpha source.

Amid the current rise in oil prices, global central banks have become more vigilant against inflation, becoming increasingly wary of risks occasioned by a potentially premature end to their rate hiking cycles. Consequently, we deem it prudent to be more cautious on duration. We therefore have a largely neutral view on duration for most countries in the region.

Digging into ASEAN: unearthing the world’s next winner

We have long been enthusiastic about the ASEAN share markets, and the region continues to offer appealing prospects. While the fundamental drivers behind ASEAN’s growth and opportunities are not entirely new, in our view the trends remain irrepressible. We discuss two key pillars—industrialisation and consumerisation—that are expected to help cement ASEAN’s place in the minds of investors.

New Zealand Fixed Income Monthly – September 2023

Although the Reserve Bank of New Zealand stated in May that inflation was likely to return to its target range of 1-3% per annum if the Official Cash Rate remained at a restrictive level for some time, market expectations for interest rates have changed significantly since. At that time, rate hikes were expected to lead to rate cuts as inflation began to ease. New Zealand’s inflation has proved stickier than expected, however, as shown by the 6.0% annual rise seen in the consumers price index for the June 2023 quarter. This shows that interest rates continue to be held hostage by high inflation.

Japan primed for resurgence after a turnaround year

We believe that a long-term revival looms for Japan. Deflationary pressures are dissipating amid rising wages. The financial markets are headed for a resurgence, supported by robust stocks—which could benefit further from a re-allocation of the country’s vast household savings—and BOJ monetary policy headed towards normalisation after decades of unorthodox easing.

Navigating Japan Equities: Monthly Insights from Tokyo (October 2023)

This month we discuss the timing of Japan’s savings to investments push as assets held by households hit a record high; we also look at the rise in the domestic long-term yield to a 10-year peak and assess its potential impact on the equity and credit markets.

New Zealand Equity Monthly – September 2023

New Zealand equities continued to see weakness in September, with the market falling by approximately 3%. This partly reflected broader volatility given that the Australian market declined by about 4% and US equities saw a fall of approximately 5%. More notably on a domestic level, however, the market’s direction was affected by the key August round of corporate results. The August reporting season is the most significant for New Zealand given that many companies release their full-year results and some firms with December fiscal year-ends release their half-year results during the month.

With oil markets closing in on US dollar (USD) 100 per barrel and US bond yields reaching 16-year highs, one could be excused for being struck by a bout of conservatism. With valuation dispersions again back to all-time highs, we contend that the risk-reward looks more favourable when taking a long-term view of Asia.

Changes to Japan’s domestic tax-free savings scheme – the Nippon Individual Savings Account (NISA) –are expected to deliver an increased flow into mutual funds both international and domestic, and attract a younger generation of investors in one of the world’s most liquid markets in terms of household wealth.

Global Investment Committee’s outlook

We expect occasionally volatile, but positive trends for the global economy, financial system and markets in each of the next four quarters. Regionally, we prefer the European and Pacific Ex-Japan markets for the 4Q, and also Japan’s on a 12-month view.

Navigating China markets amidst property sector headwinds

Nikko Asset Management’s investment experts delve into the risks and opportunities arising from China’s flagging economy and its weakening property sector.

Shift to secular growth could be a “real deal” moment for Japan equities

The current rise in Japanese equities could have legs, setting it apart from other phases in the previous 30 years which often led to disappointment. Japan’s shift from cyclical to secular growth, highlighted by labour shortages fuelling a rise in wages, is a development that is setting the equity market on a fundamentally different trajectory. We expect wage developments, as a factor affecting both consumption and inflation trends, to help determine further gains for Japan equities.

The markets are pricing “higher for longer” with US Treasury 10-year yields pressing above their October 2022 highs, tempering enthusiasm across global equities into neutral sentiment territory. As inflation pressures continue to ease without tipping the jobs market into recession, the US Federal Reserve still looks on course to achieve a soft landing. However, not surprisingly the markets remain slightly on edge as the top in yields cannot yet be called for certain.

On the Ground in Asia-Monthly Insights: Asian Fixed Income-August 2023

Indian and Indonesian bonds are expected to fare relatively better than their regional peers, supported by their attractive carry, positive macro backdrop and policy credibility. As for currencies, expectations that US interest rates may have reached their peak could weigh on US dollar sentiment and favour Asian currencies in return.

While regional markets understandably retained its focus on the economic weakness in China, we believe that the fear gripping the markets belies the region’s long-term sustainable return and positive change opportunities. The challenges that China must overcome are not insurmountable and certainly do not translate to systematic or social instability risk, in our view.

Japan’s long-term value is getting unlocked

There’s more to Japan’s renaissance than relatively inexpensive valuations. Companies have become more receptive to corporate reform and shareholder engagement; Japan’s services sector is benefitting from a resumption in tourism; and, in Japan, inflation is settling at supportive levels after years of deflation.

India’s transformational trends

Structural reforms, investments in energy transition, rising consumption and vast improvement in India’s infrastructure, productivity and manufacturing sector are expected to bolster the country’s next phase of economic growth and development.

Climate change solutions in Japan

The climate change crisis we are witnessing presents both challenges and opportunities. Focusing on the latter from an investment perspective, in our view asset managers are in a position to help facilitate society’s goals of reducing GHG emissions and decarbonising.energy

Navigating Japan Equities: Monthly Insights from Tokyo (September 2023)

This month we take a closer look at Japan’s 2Q GDP surge and analyse the factors that could offset a potential slowdown in exports; we also assess why the markets are less perturbed by a weak yen compared to a year ago and discuss the prospects of the currency strengthening in the months ahead.

The just-released 2Q CY23 data on aggregate corporate profits in Japan was somewhat mixed, but the overall corporate recurring pre-tax profit margin rebounded near its record high on a four-quarter average.

The economic wheels continue to turn forward, surprising many given that the Federal Reserve lifted the overnight target rate to 5.5%, a level not seen since 2001. It is also above the top rate of 5.25% seen back in 2006–2007, before rate cuts ultimately failed to prevent the Global Financial Crisis. This time around, balance sheets are much stronger in the private sector and so are regulations. And now, the combined fiscal impulse and investment wave may keep pushing recession risk further away.

New Zealand Fixed Income Monthly – July 2023

Recent data demonstrate that declining demand is now a major concern for companies as recent rate hikes by the Reserve Bank of New Zealand increasingly constrain economic activity.

New Zealand Equity Monthly – July 2023

The devastation from the tropical cyclone and flooding that struck New Zealand’s North Island in February 2023 was a reminder of the increasing need to mitigate extreme weather events and to take stock after they strike.

We retain our preference for Indonesian government bonds and for currencies, we believe that greater support for the renminbi from Chinese policymakers should remove a near-term headwind for currencies in the region. We take a more cautious view towards risk in the near-term due to a slightly weaker macro backdrop and uncertainties ahead which make the valuation of Asia investment grade credit look slightly stretched versus both historical levels as well as developed market spreads.

With the Chinese economy on the brink of deflation, the timing of the Chinese government’s recent pro-growth directives was a very welcome signal. If carried out, they can lead to structural changes that can potentially lead to an improvement in consumer confidence and growth in the Chinese economy, in our view.

Navigating Japan Equities: Monthly Insights from Tokyo (August 2023)

Although the Bank of Japan tweaked its policy in July, we discuss why the move may have been a compromise given expectations the central bank will wait for more concrete signs of inflation before taking a more significant step; we also describe why the rise by Japanese equities could have “legs” this time.

Climate transition: threats and opportunities

Nikko AM’s Head Portfolio Manager – Core Markets, Steven Williams, recently participated in Asset TV’s Masterclass on the threats and opportunities for investors in the climate transition. Here are the highlights of Steven’s contribution to the discussion.

While market positioning has shifted towards a more constructive outlook, the macroeconomic mood has not. Rather, persistent upside pressures in equity markets have forced investors back into the market so they do not fall too far behind benchmarks and their peers.

We remain constructive on relatively higher-yielding government bonds amid a supportive macro backdrop. Our favourable view of higher-yielders is further grounded on the view that lower-yielding government bonds will be more vulnerable to volatility in UST bonds.

New Zealand Fixed Income Monthly – June 2023

The Reserve Bank of New Zealand indicated in May that the current interest rate hiking cycle is by and large complete, with the Official Cash Rate (OCR) having peaked at its current level of 5.5%. The central bank also signalled that it is unlikely to cut the OCR in the near future, stating its intention to keep interest rates at a restrictive level for some time in order to keep inflation under control. In addition, New Zealand has a general election scheduled for 14 October 2023, further reducing the likelihood of near-term moves in the OCR.

With inflationary issues subsiding across most of Asia, many regional central banks are now holding interest rates steady, if not cutting rates in the case of China. The US, meanwhile, is still warning of further rate hikes despite some overall softening in data. Of more concern to us is what China does next.

Why investors should consider increasing their exposure to Japan

A stable political backdrop is just one of several key considerations supportive of investors increasing their exposure to Japanese equities, in our view. We believe that reforms to both its corporate governance structure and the configuration of its stock market have made Japan a more attractive investment destination for global investors. The removal of COVID-19 inbound travel restrictions is expected to provide Japan with an additional economic boost, with tourism further benefitting from the yen’s relative weakness.

Navigating Japan Equities: Monthly Insights from Tokyo (July 2023)

As a virtuous inflation cycle helps boost stocks, this month we focus on how labour shortages could nudge Japan away from a deflationary mindset; we also assess the BOJ under a new governor, who has said that monetary policy surprises could be unavoidable.

Capital efficiency initiative in Japan highlights market opportunity

Japan’s corporate governance reform started nearly a decade ago is an ongoing process, but it received a boost from the Tokyo Stock Exchange’s latest initiative in January. The latest chapter in corporate governance reform coupled with Japan’s break from a deflationary mindset and the full re-opening of the economy after the pandemic are expected to create a more favourable investment environment for Japanese equities.

Global Investment Committee’s outlook

We expect occasionally quite volatile, but positive trends for the global economy, financial system and markets in each of the next four quarters. Regionally, we prefer the European market for the next two quarters, and also include Japan’s on a 9–12-month view.

Towards a greener future: building credibility and demand for sustainability-linked bonds

As the green bond market diversifies, sustainability-linked bonds (SLBs), which are linked to an issuer’s broader sustainability performance, have garnered significant investor attention and scrutiny. We believe structural improvements will help make SLBs a more attractive sustainable investment class within the ESG universe.

The divergence in growth outlook reflected in equities continues to widen, as secular growth in the form of tech and artificial intelligence (AI) developments appears to have the upper hand in determining the overall market direction. This is evident with the tech sector being up (and Japan, for different reasons) while most other sectors and geographies are down over the month. This defies conventional wisdom—that earnings can continue to grow into a recession, but these disruptive developments are indeed significant, and perhaps this is the right directional prognosis should a recession prove to be shallow.

We remain constructive on relatively higher-yielding Philippine, Indian and Indonesian government bonds, on the back of the relatively supportive macro backdrop for these countries. As for currencies, we expect the Thai baht and Indonesian rupiah to continue outperforming regional peers.

New Zealand Fixed Income Monthly – May 2023

In an encouraging sign for New Zealand, the Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ) signalled in May that the Official Cash Rate is likely to have peaked at its current level of 5.5%. The RBNZ appears to have shifted its focus from inflationary pressures to factors that will drive inflation down. Factors cited include weak global growth, easing inflationary pressures among New Zealand’s trading partners and reductions in supply chain constraints.

New Zealand Equity Monthly – May 2023

The Reserve Bank of New Zealand’s decision to have the Official Cash Rate (OCR) peak at 5.5% surprised the market, which had started to price in a peak of 5.75% or 6.0%. The lower-than-expected peak in the OCR is positive for equities as higher interest rates dampen spending by consumers and businesses.