Asia (Ex-Japan): Asian equities have outperformed mature markets in 2009 thanks to continuous foreign institutional investor inflows amid diminishing risk-aversion among global investors and relatively resilient macroeconomic fundamentals. Markets had gained 46% YTD as of August 31 (78% since October 2008) with India (68%) and Indonesia (75%) the best performers, and China (39%) and Malaysia (36%) the laggards. Sri Lanka posted an exceptional 131% gain due to the end of a 26-year civil war, a US$2.5-billion loan agreement with the IMF and the government's positive stance on reforms and liberalization. Asian markets have recovered 54% of the losses incurred in 2008 (peak to trough, down 59%).
Latin America (LatAm): LatAm equities has outperformed the other emerging markets' regional indexes by rising 59% YTD to August 31 (99% since it hit bottom in November 2008), with strong performances in Brazil (71%) and Colombia (55%). The laggards are Argentina (41%) and Mexico (34%). Overall, LatAm equities market have recovered 46% of the 2008 crash, after falling 68% peak to trough.
Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa: Equities market went up 42% YTD to the end of August and 77% since reaching bottom in March 2009. Turkey (66%) and Russia (59%) lead the mark, while Morocco (-3%) and South Africa (16%) have underperformed. Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa stock markets have recovered 39% of the sharp correction induced by the global crisis, after falling 66% peak to trough.
Recent EM market Dynamics:
- Emerging-market stocks ended higher on November 18, heading for their highest level in 15 months. The gap on yield for developing vs. developed country debt fell due to higher commodity prices and speculation that the U.S. would keep low interest rates until 2012. David Spegel, the head of emerging market strategy at ING Financial Bank NV in New York, says there is “some positive sentiment and upside favoring for high beta countries…Investors are expecting that the Fed will remain on hold for a long time and recognize it as a buying opportunity.” (Bloomberg, 11/18/09)
- WB President Robert Zoellick says the U.S. has a limited ability to stop the USD decline, while IMF head Dominique Strauss-Kahn says the USD has fallen within a normal range, proving resilient to the crisis. Asian authorities “expressed concern that the global stimulus, especially the flood of liquidity pumped out by central banks, could create asset bubbles and inflation, such as in commodities.” (WSJ, 11/14/09)
- According to Citi, "Latin American stocks face the risk of a rebound in the U.S. dollar, in the middle of which could be the region’s steepest rally in almost two decades. The biggest fundamental risk of a decent correction in regional equities is, therefore, a bounce in the dollar…As markets enter 2010, the timing of the first Fed move will come closer and the dollar could bounce, triggering a more severe correction in regional equities." LatAm equities are more likely to suffer a correction early in 2010 than at the end of this year. Citi reiterated its preference for Brazilian over Mexican equities. In the face of debt downgrade risk, Mexican stocks are "underweight." (Bloomberg, 10/27/09)
- Developing-nation stocks headed for a steep three-day slide as concern mounted that central banks may rein in stimulus spending and companies reported lower profits. The MSCI Emerging Markets Index dropped 2%, reaching an accumulated retreat of 4.1% during the week. Stocks in Russia, Turkey, Hungary and Indonesia fell more than 2% while the suffering of large companies in South Korea and Poland was felt in their indexes. During 2009, the MSCI measure for emerging-market equities has rallied 64% as governments pumped about US$12 trillion to spur growth and as signs of recovery drew investors to higher-yielding assets. (Bloomberg, 10/28/09)
- "Equity fund inflows into the BRICs have reached US$32.3 billion this year (US$10 billion above 2006). Brazil has been the best performer as equity investors have pumped in US$2.44 billion in October (nearly double that of China at US$1.3 billion) due to its position as one of the world largest commodity producers, strong growth in China and the broader optimism about global economic recovery. The strong data in the developing world and a growing view among investors that these markets are likely to offer the biggest returns as their economic growth outpaces the west have attracted US$63.1 billion in inflows this year. This compares with outflows of US$75.6 billion in developed world equity funds." (FT, 10/23/09)
- After India withdrew its monetary stimulus and increased its inflation forecast, emerging-market stocks fell the most in seven weeks as the MSCI Emerging Markets Index declined 1.3%. The yen rose as investors sought refuge. The Shanghai Composite Index decreased 2.8%, the steepest decline among benchmark equity indexes worldwide, after an early drop in metal prices. (Bloomberg, 10/27/09)
- Market correction is expected this year as China and other countries cut stimulus funding, since the rally in global markets is basically liquidity-driven, says Peter Westin, the chief strategist at Aton LLC. Earlier in October, Bloomberg reported that investors were throwing money into the riskiest emerging markets at a remarkable pace, buying as if the global financial crisis was over. Emerging-market funds have absorbed more than US$40 billion so far this year, according to fund tracker EPFR Global. "That means that last year's outflow of US$40.1 billion has been completely erased," said Andrew Howell, an emerging-markets strategist at Citi. "We tend to get nervous when inflows surge, suggesting excessive optimism. However, at this point it seems early to get too worried." (Bloomberg, 10/22/09, 10/13/09)
- "For veteran emerging-market investor Mark Mobius and executive chairman of Templeton Asset Management... China remains the biggest investment destination for emerging-markets funds...Asia and emerging markets overall remain 'solid long-term investment opportunities.' " However, he recommends caution when it comes to short-term investment due to high volatility in today’s markets. (WSJ, 09/30/09)
- Emerging markets now are "too large to be ignored," despite the misconception that emerging economies have small, illiquid and volatile financial markets. Their market capitalization now represents 30% of the world’s market capitalization (as much as that of the U.S.), 50% of the global economy and the world’s top growth prospects, though they have only a 12% share in the MSCI All Country World Index. (FT, 09/28/09)
- "Developing-nation equities capped their steepest weekly decline in more than two months on mounting concern that a rally has outpaced economic growth after an unexpected drop in U.S. home sales and factory orders." Markets have not corrected and the economy showed a disappointing reaction to stimulus, says Marc Faber, the publisher of the Gloom, Boom & Doom report. (Bloomberg, 09/25/09)
- According to a Reuters report, Latin American stocks reached a new 2009 high on September 22, 2009, while Brazil's currency rose to the highest level in a year after the improvement of the country's ratings. Brazil's real strengthened 1% to 1.799 per USD, its strongest since exactly a year ago. The LatAm stock index rose 1.02% to 3,643.10, and the broader emerging markets' stock index added 1.27%. One day earlier, Bloomberg reported that stocks from developing-nations dropped 0.9% after trading at the highest level relative to profits since 2000, according to the MSCI Emerging Markets Index.
- "Emerging market stocks contracted the most this month after Chinese companies reported worse than expected earnings and Russia's economy contracted by a record amount, creating concerns about an economic recovery. The MSCI contracted 1.4%. On August 3 the MSCI closed above 855.47 on for the first time since the collapse of Lehman Brothers in September, as speculations of an easing to the global recession were bolstered by a positive report on U.S. manufacturing and rising commodity prices. In Asia, stock indices were supported by better than expected earnings from energy producers due to higher oil prices." (Bloomberg, 08/13/09)
- "Moody's reiteration...of Mexico's existing sovereign credit rating (Baa1), with a stable outlook, does not alter Citigroup's view that the risk of a ratings downgrade is a threat to Mexican equities later this year. Accordingly, the positive market action in response to the Moody’s announcement (including a rally in the peso through P$13.00/dollar) may be overdone." (Citi, 08/12/09)
p/s photos: Sharon Xu