Global investors haven’t bought enough Asian stocks, Fidelity says

FAN Editor

Asia — especially high-growth regions such as China, India and Southeast Asia — is under-represented in global stock portfolios, according to asset management firm Fidelity International.

The region has been driving a lot of the outperformance in emerging markets, Medha Samant, investment director at Fidelity International, told CNBC on Wednesday.

“Fundamentally, when you look at the economies, whether it’s the strength of the domestic consumer, or the health of the companies, Asia was still in good shape,” she said.

Samant added: “When you look at the size of the economies versus the weight you have in equity portfolios, there’s no correlation there.”

“While Asia has strong economies, big ones like India, China, even the ASEAN region, showing high rates of growth, they’re very under-allocated when it comes to their presence in global equity portfolios,” she said referring to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

She said, however, that prices are now “reasonable” rather than “cheap,” as quite a lot of the good news on emerging markets have been priced in.

Emerging markets stocks have been on a tear this year. The emerging markets index under global index provider MSCI — comprising of China, South Korea, Taiwan, India, Brazil and others — has jumped about 12 percent since the beginning of this year.

There are predictions that the MSCI Emerging Markets Index will surge even further by the end of this year, on the back of additional stimulus by China and the increasing likelihood of a trade deal with the U.S.

This week, a raft of data coming from China showed that its economy performed better than expected in March, with manufacturing activity improving.

Both the private Caixin/Markit Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index and the official Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) for March expanded unexpectedly, surprising analysts.

But experts on Wednesday warned against reading too much into that data.

“Well it’s really early days to see that sort of turnaround in China. But what’s really positive will be the fact that policy support is definitely towards the private sector, and authorities are taking a loosening bias,” said Samant, implying that Beijing will likely keep liquidity in the economy.

However, she pointed out that that positive news was still just a “green shoot.”

J.P. Morgan’s Global Market Strategist, Hannah Anderson, told CNBC’s “Street Signs” on Wednesday: “I do think we need to be careful about interpreting too much on the long-term outlook from month to month releases.”

She predicted that 2019 growth in China will probably range between moderate to the downside of the government’s official forecast of 6.0 to 6.5 percent, slower than last year.

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