Insights

Investment Insights by our experts and thought leaders

In our view, the change from dollar strength to relative weakness is meaningful for the shift in relative growth prospects, favouring the rest of the world over the US.

Consumption potential in China’s lower-tier cities

While consumer sentiment may be weaker across China presently, we believe that the long-term outlook for the country’s consumer sector remains attractive. China’s lower-tier cities are stepping up to fuel the growth engine that once relied heavily on megacities.

Future Quality Insights -January 2023- The path to clean, secure and affordable energy

Clean, secure and affordable energy is likely to be one of the major challenges of this decade. Given we need abundant energy to complete the energy transition, we believe fossil fuel companies that are actively enabling transition to low carbon society can be part of the solution. They often understand how to deliver global energy at scale and have the balance sheets capable of enabling the transition to clean energy.

Chinese shares outperformed in December as the country continued to move away from its zero-COVID policy while markets in Taiwan and South Korea slumped amid concerns towards the global economy. In ASEAN, Thailand led the region as the country is expected to be one of the biggest beneficiaries of a potential return of Chinese tourists.

We expect global inflation to ease and global growth to weaken in 2023; we also think that the Fed is likely to pause hiking rates by the first quarter of 2023. Against this backdrop, we are broadly constructive on regional bonds as most Asian central banks could be nearing the end of their rate hike cycles.

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

We discuss the Bank of Japan’s unexpected move to tweak its yield curve control scheme and the potential implications; we also provide a brief overview of some of the factors seen impacting Japan equities in 2023.

Asian stocks rebounded strongly in November after Federal Reserve Fed Chair Jerome Powell pointed to slower pace of monetary policy tightening and lifted market sentiment. All Asian markets ended in positive territory, with China in the lead with a month-on-month (MoM) gain of 29.7%.

While we do not expect the US Federal Reserve to pivot any time soon towards easing policy, the firm break in dollar momentum perhaps reflects a shift in the relative growth story which had favoured the US towards one focused on the rest of the world centred around improving China demand.

Global Investment Committee’s Outlook

We don’t expect smooth sailing for the global economy and markets, but there should be great relief for both stocks and bonds in 2023, with pockets of strong outperformance due to idiosyncratic advantages. Notably, Europe and Developed Pacific-ex Japan should be overweighed for equites for the next six months, but Japan should perform the best by next December.

We are more positive on duration overall, on the assessment that we are likely past peak hawkishness from the Federal Reserve and other developed market central banks. We favour Singapore and South Korean government bonds, given their relatively higher sensitivity to stabilising US Treasury yields.

BOJ’s YCC shift parallels a Fed pattern

In what was probably the best kept secret of many years, the BOJ unanimously agreed to shift its YCC policy well before virtually any economist or market watcher expected. The largest question people seem to have is “why now?”. As with most major decisions, the answer was likely a confluence of several important items.

2023 Global macro outlook: Ten predictions

No single catch-phrase epitomises the 2023 global macro outlook, but here are ten predictions for the year ahead.

2023 Global multi-asset outlook

On balance, we are constructive mainly for valuation support and growth prospects improving for China with a firm tailwind from an easing dollar. Pockets of the US equity market may struggle on weaker earnings, but the rest of the world should still fair relatively well provided the US does not enter a deep recession.

2023 Global equity outlook

Some of the factors that have shaped 2022 look less likely to recur in 2023 (for instance, supply chain duress because of COVID containment) but others will likely last longer (most notably a higher cost of capital). We are cautiously optimistic that less aggressive monetary policy will eventually make 2023 a kinder year for equity markets but there may yet be shocks to overcome.

2023 Singapore equity outlook

We expect a moderation of growth, a peak in inflation and a more accommodative monetary policy in 2023. We see this as a positive for Singapore, as we believe a more accommodative policy backdrop will help support continued expansion in corporate earnings growth in 2023.

2023 China equity outlook

We believe that the rewards will outweigh the risks related to China amid an existence of enough cyclical, thematic and structural trends that could enable the country to outperform in 2023; particular focus will be on the government’s zero-COVID policy and its support for the property sector.

2023 Global Fixed Income outlook

We present our 2023 outlook for core markets, emerging markets and global credit.

2023 Asian rates and FX outlook

Most Asian countries are expected to grow at a slower pace in 2023 than they did in 2022, and fiscal stimulus will no longer be a dominant factor driving growth in the region. We expect monetary policy outlook to persist as the primary driver of rates in 2023 with focus on the potential end to the tightening cycle.

2023 Asian equity outlook

As we look towards 2023, it is easy to be overwhelmed by the broader permutations of possible outcomes. But things don’t appear so dire in Asia. Inflation, which is effectively a value transfer from net consumers to net producers, may continue to benefit India and pockets of ASEAN due to favourable demographics and rising productivity.

2023 Asian credit outlook

We believe that the benign macro backdrop should remain supportive for credit fundamentals in 2023. The fiscal deficits of Asian economies are expected to gradually narrow as the need for pandemic support decreases.

Navigating Japan Equities: Monthly Insights from Tokyo (December 2022)

This month we discuss the prospects of Japanese equities remaining well-supported into 2023 thanks to robust exports and inbound demand. We also explain why the markets are looking beyond a dip in Japan’s 3Q GDP, focusing instead on the prospect of growth resuming.

2023 Japan equity outlook

As geopolitical risks and globalisation are reassessed in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and war in Europe, we believe that Japan stands to benefit as more companies refocus on their home markets.

Japan’s “show me the money” corporate governance: 3Q, another record high

The just-released 3Q CY22 data on aggregate corporate profits in Japan was very positive, with the overall corporate recurring pre-tax profit margin hitting a record high on a four quarter average.

The case for China bonds

China’s bond market is exhibiting low correlation to other asset classes, displaying historically lower volatility, enjoying continued internationalisation of the renminbi and benefitting from the country being included in globally recognised indices.

This month, Fed Chair Powell seemed hellbent on quashing any last hope of a pivot or at least slowing the pace of rate hikes sometime soon. But this crushing blow to hope helped sow the seeds of an eyewatering rally when one inflation print showed some promise—hence, the manic cycle continues.

The ASEAN region fared better on the whole in October thanks to gains by the Philippines and Malaysia; Hong Kong and Taiwan stocks were volatile while the China market continued sliding.

Navigating Japan Equities: Monthly Insights from Tokyo (November 2022)

We discuss Japan’s recent currency market interventions from an equity market perspective; we also share our thoughts on steadily rising inflation after a surge in the September core CPI.

Why convexity matters

Yields have moved significantly this year, challenging the assumption that the relationship between a bond’s price and yield is linear. We discuss convexity, which measures how sensitive a bond’s duration is to yield changes, and its importance under the current conditions.

Inbound tourism: An immediate boost for Japan

As Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida focuses on various economic initiatives to shore up his support ratings, the revival of inbound tourism is seen as a measure that can provide the economy with an immediate boost.

The potential implications of China’s 20th Party Congress

China’s 20th Party Congress ended on 23 October with President Xi Jinping winning an unprecedented third term as expected. We provide a brief analysis of the Congress and the impact it could have on China’s zero-COVID policy and the capital markets.

Global Unconstrained Bond Fund Q4 2022 Outlook

We present our Q4 2022 outlook for the Global Unconstrained Bond Strategy which incorporates our core markets, emerging markets and global credit views.

The future looks bright for Asia’s equity markets

Asia continues to offer opportunities in terms of attractive companies; on a relative basis, Asian markets look set to outperform as the region becomes an even more important part of the global economy.

Global Equity Quarterly (Q3 2022)

The low for this bear market could be a lot closer at hand now than it was, with equity valuations having fallen considerably. We remain focused upon assessing our companies’ ability to deliver earnings expectations and cash generation. These give us confidence in the long-term, even if shorter-term developments remain volatile.

Going forward, despite some expected moderation amidst the slowdown in global growth, we believe that growth and corporate credit fundamentals will remain sufficiently robust to prevent a meaningful widening of credit spreads. However, some modest widening may be expected in the near term, with the benchmark spread level at the tighter end of the expected medium-term range and given the plethora of global market risks.

Central bank tightening is beginning to have an impact, but less evidently in terms of easing inflationary pressures than in causing strains on the global financial system. Policymakers are beginning to blink—first with Japan intervening to support the yen for the first time since 1998, followed by the Bank of England (BOE) returning to quantitative easing (and postponing planned quantitative tightening) to ease pressures on the UK pension system following an ill-advised fiscal easing by new UK government leadership.

Rising interest rates and inflation woes continued to weigh on regional and global markets. US consumer prices registered above expectations with the August consumer price index (CPI) jumping 8.3% year-on-year (YoY). The tight labour market made further case for a rate hike, culminating in a 75-basis-point (bps) interest rate hike by the US Federal Reserve (Fed).

Investing in a multipolar world

Between still high levels of inflation, fast-tightening central banks, a growing energy crisis in Europe and slow growth in China, it is easy to imagine a bleak growth outlook. But these difficult dynamics also harbour opportunities often masked in exaggerated mispricing based on fear and confusion.

Navigating Japan Equities: Monthly Insights from Tokyo (October 2022)

This month we analyse what immediate impact the full reopening of Japan could have on the economy and markets; we also review the factors that may make Prime Minister Kishida’s “asset-income doubling plan” more effective in the long term.

A big comeback: Rising fortunes of Asia’s small caps

After spending almost a decade in the shadows of their larger counterparts, Asia’s smaller companies are being viewed in a new light. Factors that had weighed on these businesses are now turning into tailwinds, and we have identified seven key developments which should provide momentum for the asset class.

Enhancing returns from opportunities in global credit

The current environment in fixed income is definitely challenging for investors as the rate cycle has turned. However, we believe that by unlocking the full performance potential of the different credit asset classes achieving positive absolute performance is still possible.

Our scenario is fairly ugly for the 4Q, but has a strong silver lining thereafter. We are not optimistic about the global economy and investor returns reverting to normal for an extended period, but there should be clear intermediate term relief and pockets of strong outperformance due to idiosyncratic advantages.

The world is fast entering the adjustment phase as deglobalisation is accelerating, requiring new solutions and investment to clear new imbalances from energy supply to labour and eventually normalise inflation.

ESG through an Asian equity lens

In recent years, the increased focus on ESG has validated our beliefs. Yet, the complex and fast-changing economies and societies that make up Asia continue to be a challenge confronting investors looking to apply ESG analysis across Asian asset classes. This is a good thing, as investors who can do this successfully will likely add even more value to alpha generation.

On the Ground in Asia-Monthly Insights: Asian Fixed Income-August 2022

Inflationary pressures continued to remain elevated in July, as the headline CPI numbers in South Korea, Singapore, Indonesia and the Philippines increased, while those of Thailand and India moderated. During the month, the central banks of Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, South Korea and India raised their key policy rates.

The regional index of the MSCI AC Asia ex Japan in August was flat at 0.0% in US dollar terms, recovering after falling into negative territory earlier. The North Asian region was weighed down by foreign currency effects, trailing behind its ASEAN counterpart. India benefitted from its rate hike and lower oil prices.

Navigating Japan Equities: Monthly Insights from Tokyo (September 2022)

This month we discuss the factors behind Japan’s high level of share buybacks; we also look at the economic implications of COVID in the wake of a particularly large infection wave.

Japan Value Insights: Creating economic wealth by utilising forest resources

Utilising and regenerating Japan’s ample forest resources by promoting a “wood cycle” could contribute to the creation of economic wealth and a net-zero carbon future.

Japan’s “show me the money” corporate governance: 2Q record high

The just-released 2Q CY22 data on aggregate corporate profits in Japan was very positive, with the overall corporate recurring pre-tax profit margin hitting a record high on a four quarter average.

Global Equity Quarterly (Q2 2022)

Our belief is that we have moved into a new regime where inflation will be structurally higher despite the anchors of high debt burdens, ageing societies and ongoing technological disruption.

We are taking a more constructive view in duration overall, as we believe that the markets have largely priced in hawkish Fed expectations. Among the low-yielding countries, we prefer Singapore and Hong Kong, while we like Malaysia and India among the mid- to high-yielding countries. On currencies, we maintain our preference for the Singapore dollar.

It may be easy to become gloomy after the drawdown of the last few months. But we believe that there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic about the prospects for compounding your future capital from today’s levels, if you take into account the following three steps: 1) recognise that that we have shifted to a different road type, and it is rougher and more variable; 2) realise that this new road may be best travelled with different vehicles; and 3) improve your probabilities by sticking to a few enduring principles.

The shift in market narratives continues to gather pace, matching the increase in volatility of the economic cycle seen since the beginning of the pandemic. Central banks are generally aiming to smooth the economic cycle, but this time they may be adding to the volatility of the cycle instead.

Higher commodity prices impacted returns in Asia, while a slip in prices of crude oil and metals benefitted many Asian nations. We expect the future trajectory of inflation to dictate the path of interest rates, which in turn is seen determining economic growth globally.

Asia corporate high yield: Market review and outlook

Asia high yield credit had a tough start to 2022, succumbing to heavy selling pressure . Apart from geopolitical tensions, tighter financial conditions and rising recession risk in major developed economies, sentiment toward Asia HY has been heavily weighed down by sustained stress in China’s property sector. Going forward, we believe the pace of correction will moderate.

Global Unconstrained Bond Fund Q3 2022 Outlook

We present our Q3 2022 outlook for the Global Unconstrained Bond Strategy which incorporates our core markets, emerging markets and global credit views.

Asia bonds: Calmer seas ahead

We explain why we are more positive on Asia bonds than we were at the beginning of 2022. To begin with, inflation in Asia is less severe compared to other regions, lessening the need for Asian central banks to tighten aggressively. This makes Asia bonds attractive from a real yield perspective.

The East and West appear to be headed in different directions. The East may benefit from China’s easing and supportive growth characteristics. Meanwhile, the West is mired in slowing growth, excessive levels of inflation and central banks ever more eager to take down inflation through conventional tool kits designed to slow demand.

Inflationary pressures accelerated in May across the region, due to higher transport and food prices. We maintain our preference for Malaysian bonds, as we believe that inflation will be better contained in Malaysia compared to other countries.

Our view on Japan’s upper house election

As it often is when Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party wins an election by an impressive amount, the initial equity market reaction was positive. But the ramifications of the ruling party’s upper house election victory will in the intermediate term be a function of what happens to the global economy and geopolitics in the months and quarters ahead.

Navigating Japan Equities: Monthly Insights from Tokyo (July 2022)

We take a look at why the Bank of Japan is likely to stick to its easy monetary policy even as other central banks embark on policy tightening; we also highlight the signs of a full-fledged capex recovery taking place in Japan.

Chinese EVs and their potential from an investment perspective

There has been remarkable progress in electric vehicle (EV) technology and its acceptance globally. We believe that Chinese EVs are set to lead the world in this area as technological innovation, demand, government policy and consumer behaviour have put China ahead of Europe and the US.

Fears of a recession and the US CPI hitting a four-decade high of 8.6% year-on-year in May rippled through various economies. Asian markets took heed from the multiple headwinds in the US, with inflation being a common theme across the region. For the month, the MSCI AC Asia ex Japan Index fell by 4.5% in US dollar terms.

Riding ASEAN’s growth renaissance: Three high conviction themes

Amid today’s incessant chatter of rising inflation and global recession fears, we identify three high conviction themes driving a growth renaissance in ASEAN: electric vehicles (EVs), digitalisation and a revival by the old industrial economy.

“Stagflation-lite” coupled with a severe geopolitical crisis was much worse for equities than we expected, but most of the bad news is priced in, so the prospect for global economies and equities in aggregate should improve. While we expect global GDP to moderately underperform consensus, it should skirt recession and positively surprise equity markets, which increasingly have priced in recessionary conditions.

Defined as negative growth for two consecutive quarters, a recession is certainly in the realm of possibilities (if not probable). However, it may be more a reflection of continued extreme economic volatility following the COVID-19 pandemic, rather than a conventional recession that follows an extended period of economic expansion.

Japan’s “new form of capitalism” in review

We review the “new form of capitalism”, a government plan to boost economic growth initiated by Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who is enjoying a high public approval rating ahead of a closely watched upper house election.

Navigating Japan Equities: Monthly Insights from Tokyo (June 2022)

This month we explain why losses by Japanese equities so far in 2022 have been limited relative to their peers; we also assess the positive impact a return of inbound tourism could have on Japan’s economy and markets.

Japan’s “show me the money” corporate governance: 1Q record high

The just-released 1Q CY22 data on aggregate corporate profits in Japan was positive, with the overall corporate recurring pre-tax profit margin hitting a record high on a four quarter average. Both the non-financial service and manufacturing sectors contributed, with the latter surging to another record high. Note that the strong results occurred despite quite weak GDP, further proving the long-held theme of this report that profit margins remain on a structural uptrend despite sluggish domestic GDP growth, as shown in the charts below. Increased pricing power, coupled with improving corporate technological prowess and efficiency, should be credited for this, but improving global economic growth certainly was also a major factor.

Future Quality Insights – June 2022 - Revolutions and war: The start of an energy broadband boom

For the last two centuries energy revolutions have created extensive platforms for subsequent technologies to drive wealth creation and raise living standards across the world. And this decade heralds the start of an energy revolution providing investors with lots of opportunities—the beginning of an energy broadband infrastructure boom.

Harvesting Growth, Harnessing Change

Change is both more prevalent and significant in Asian markets. We believe that seeking to understand it is essential to deliver sustainable returns.

The outlook is increasingly clouded as markets come to terms with a Fed that may do “whatever it takes” to contain inflation. Given that current inflationary pressures appear to be mainly driven by supply-side constraints and rising energy prices, it follows that the Fed would need to be willing to take the economy into a recession to meet its mandate.

Asian markets were downcast in April as investors were concerned about inflation and the likelihood of a larger-than-expected rate hike by the US Federal Reserve. For the month, the MSCI AC Asia ex Japan Index fell by 5.2% in US dollar (USD) terms.

Global Unconstrained Bond Strategy Q2 2022 Outlook

We present our Q2 2022 outlook for the Global Unconstrained Bond Strategy which incorporates our core markets, emerging markets and global credit views.

Navigating Japan Equities: Monthly Insights from Tokyo (May 2022)

We discuss the implications of the weak yen, now considered by some as a menace rather than a blessing, for the Japanese market and economy. We also explain the potential impact of higher energy and commodity prices.

Ground-level observations from China

A trip back to China provided an opportunity to experience first-hand the impact innovative technology and digitalisation is having on a fast-changing urban society.

Relief rallies are always encouraging but do not necessarily portray parting clouds for a return to “normal” market conditions. The market is still digesting a rather dizzying array of challenging dynamics that have unfolded quickly over the last quarter.

Global Equity Quarterly (Q1 2022)

We are keen to participate in the push towards a less carbon intensive future but want to do so in a balanced fashion, with one eye on the associated risks.

We have eased our cautious view towards duration as we expect global rates to consolidate from current levels. On currencies, we are positive on the Malaysian ringgit, Indonesian rupiah and Singapore dollar.

Asian stocks declined in March, dragged down by the Russia-Ukraine conflict. Lingering concerns over inflation also weighed on the equities markets. For the month, the MSCI AC Asia ex Japan Index fell by 2.8% in US dollar terms.

Navigating Japan Equities: Monthly Insights from Tokyo (April 2022)

This month we discuss the Japanese stock market’s recovery from the initial shock of the Russia-Ukraine war; we also assess the potential impact of a Russian debt default on Japan’s markets and financial system.

Japan Value Insights: Spotlight on sustainable companies addressing social issues

We share our thoughts on sustainable companies that address social issues and contribute to the physical and mental well-being of individuals.

The GIC expects the global economy to continue struggling in a form of “stagflation-lite” and sees a relatively flat performance for global equities for the next three to six months (although quite positive on Pacific equities), with moderate weakness for global bonds.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has created significant uncertainty for investors. Prior to the war’s outbreak, central bankers were already facing a challenging inflationary environment, and these new commodity-driven price pressures are set to complicate matters even further.

We are generally neutral to slightly cautious in our view of countries whose bonds are relatively more sensitive to UST movements. Within Asia currencies, we prefer the Chinese renminbi and Malaysian ringgit over the Indian rupee and the Philippine peso.

Navigating Japan Equities: Monthly Insights from Tokyo (March 2022)

This month we discuss how higher long-term yields could impact Japanese stocks; we also focus on how robust exports could play a role in boosting the country’s long stagnant wage growth.

Japan’s “show me the money” corporate governance: 4Q record high

The just released 4Q CY21 data on aggregate corporate profits in Japan was very positive, with the overall corporate recurring pre-tax profit margin hitting a record high on a four quarter average.

Russia-Ukraine conflict – Nikko AM’s views

In order to gain a range of perspectives on the Russia-Ukraine conflict, Nikko Asset Management has gathered the views of various experts and investment teams, representing many of our major asset classes and geographical regions.

Policy actions by monetary authorities diverged across the region; we remain cautious on bonds of low yielding countries and regional currencies.

Navigating Japan Equities: Monthly Insights from Tokyo (February 2022)

We analyse the course the Bank of Japan could take as other major central banks move towards policy change; we also take a deeper look into Japan’s strong exports, which are expected to keep buoying the economy in 2022.

Future Quality Insights – February 2022 - History rhymes

Have you ever stopped to imagine what would happen if the world’s central banks spent just over a decade pouring USD 25 trillion of liquidity into the economy with more than 60% of that liquidity created in the last two years? In this article, we’ll try to assess what has happened and think about how investors should navigate the next phase of the greatest financial experiment of all time.

The outlook is currently challenging. Tightening is coming, but it is not here yet and in the meantime current policy remains quite accommodative. There is no doubt that extremely easy policy boosted equity prices, which were reinforced by strong earnings. Still, we believe organic growth can continue.

Asian stocks had a tough start to 2022 amid concerns that persistent inflation could cause any tightening by the US Federal Reserve (Fed) to be more aggressive than expected. For the month, the MSCI AC Asia ex Japan Index fell by 3.10% in US dollar (USD) terms.

US Federal Reserve: Approaching lift-off

Increasing expectations of a more aggressive Fed tightening cycle have led to a sell-off in US Treasuries. We share our thoughts on what this means for investors in 2022 and discuss our outlook for Asian bond markets.

Differentiation through engagement: Opportunities in Japan equities

We highlight the increasing importance of engagement in Japan, explain how it could be the key to unlocking the long-underperforming Japanese market’s potential, and assess how it can lead to the generation of alpha.

India: Reaping growth from change

Going back to India for a month after two long years of not being able to visit my family, I was pleasantly surprised by the new normal. While there has been much adversity, COVID-19 has also sparked positive change, especially on technology adoption.

Thoughts for seasick investors

It would not be surprising if the major swings in the markets and macroeconomic conditions, including historic central bank shifts, have made most investors somewhat seasick. Recently on a day-to-day basis, markets seem to react quite irrationally, but the overall backdrop is fairly clear: the markets are getting accustomed to one of the most rapid and major shifts in Federal Reserve policy ever in its history.

Global Equity Quarterly (Q4 2021)

An ability to look forward to better times and remain optimistic is invaluable. These attributes are no less helpful when investing in equities. Whilst you can get an unpleasant surprise from misjudging the direction of the tide while enjoying your picnic, the consequences for misjudging the direction of the liquidity waves look more pronounced than ever as we enter 2022.

As is often the case, markets are a better reflection of general sentiment than news headlines and so far, it points to an ongoing global recovery as equities hold their gains of 2021 and long-term bond yields rise. It may not be time yet to write off more difficult scenarios derived from the outbreak of Omicron, but facts so far do speak more positively than just one month ago.

On the back of uncertainties surrounding Omicron and major central banks turning hawkish, we deem it prudent to hold a slightly cautious stance on duration, as well as a slightly defensive stance on Asian currencies.

Taiwan and South Korea were buoyed by strong exports as sustained global demand for electronics supported hardware tech stocks amid widespread supply chain disruptions. The ASEAN region saw mixed returns. Thailand was the best performer as policymakers approved new stimulus measures to support domestic consumption, while the Philippines had to delay COVID-19 vaccinations on the back of Typhoon Rai.