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European & Japanese Equities Gaining Favour

Fiscal measures announced by the European Central Bank, European equities should finish the year in a better shape despite increased volatility. The credible package of measures should nudge growth in the euro zone up a gear, as businesses should reap the benefit of easier access to funds, while the weaker euro would promote exports. On the flip side, some remained to be watchful of the current hunger for high yields on the part of investors, as there are echoes of the 2005-07 scenario in the market. Europe is still fighting deflation like most of the rest of the world (with the exception of emerging markets). 

Some may cite low GDP growth as a basis for under performance of equity markets but as many studies have shown, there is no correlation with the stock market. This is largely due to its forward discounting valuation platform.

The UK markets stood out as the first European country to be adjusting its rate upwards in what is a fine balancing act on the part of the Bank of England, because it is one of the most indebted places in the world, not to mention the housing boom which is not easy to deflate. Previously in deep recession, these countries have now bottomed out and turned for the better, significantly Spain, Greece and Portugal.

Political uncertainties are merely noises that do not significantly impact on his strategy. Dysfunctional governments all over the place, Malaysia is a prime example of equity markets working in spite of it. 

Funds Like Abe

As prime minister Shinzo Abe's "Abenomics" continues to work to boost Japan's economy, the country's equity funds may be a risky but profitable choice for mandatory provident fund investors. Japanese equity funds were the biggest performers last year when Abenomics started taking effect, with returns reaching 33 percent.

But the situation then changed, with the funds recording negative returns since the beginning of the year. Average returns amounted to negative 3.55 percent for the first half. This came as the Nikkei slumped 9 percent in the first quarter. However, a recovery is under way in Japan.

A sales tax hike in April triggered a 12 percent drop in sales that month. But the drop eased to just 4 percent in May, as retail sales warmed up again.
Tokyo is optimistic that the economy will continue to improve and has raised its estimates on private consumption.

Abe's "third arrow" of sweeping reform - like the creation of "national strategic economic growth areas" in Tokyo, Kansai and Fukuoka - also helped fuel a rally in Japanese stocks.

That came after the first and second arrows of Abenomics - fiscal stimulus and monetary expansion - achieved considerable success in spurring economic renewal.

Consumer prices in Japan rose at an annual rate of 3.4 percent in May, the fastest pace in 32 years, and the unemployment rate is 3.5 percent - the lowest since 1997.

Data show that Japanese equity funds received total capital inflow of about US$12.8 billion as of mid-June. Net capital outflow for the second week that month amounted to about US$170 million. As investors have started to bring in capital since May, the market is assumed to be regaining confidence in Japan. People have started to reevaluate the effect of Abenomics, as the sales tax hike has not brought the expected slump in share prices. Investors have started to regain interest in Japanese stocks and liquidity is increasing and flowing into tangible assets.


Kevin Wong said…
After 5 years of uptrend, investors are really having fun in the sun! Or is it still, ""make hay while the sun shines""? There are still a few investors who still believe even at this record high level, its riskier not to be invested now than to wait years later. As for me, i'm still staying fully invested - for now.

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