With just two weeks to go before the new year begins, many fund managers around the world seem to agree on one thing: The rally in Asian stocks will continue into 2018.
Strength in the equity market, they said, will be supported by regional economies growing strongly and solid company fundamentals that will drive earnings in the next 12 months.
Stock markets globally have rallied for much of 2017, with the MSCI All Country World Index climbing more than 22 percent by the end of November. The MSCI All Country Asia Pacific Index rose at a stronger rate of 29 percent during the same period.
JPMorgan Asset Management, BlackRock and Value Partners are some of the investors with a bullish view on Asian stocks.
“We’re particularly positive on Asian markets, particularly North Asian countries. For example, Hong Kong and China I think are still very strong in terms of corporate earnings and also PMI (Purchasing Managers’ Index) in China is still over 50 and we believe it will continue to maintain at a strong level during 2018,” Kelly Chung, senior fund manager at Value Partners, told CNBC on Monday.
The PMI is a measure of economic activity. A reading above 50 indicates expansion, while a reading below that signals contraction.
Chung’s view echoed those of major investors globally, including the world’s largest money manager BlackRock, which said last month Asian equities were still cheap relative to historical levels and other asset classes.
Kerry Craig, global market strategist at JPMorgan Asset Management, agreed that there’s “little impetus to move away from equities at the moment.” He said emerging markets and Asia will likely have another good run next year.
“I think the difference between now and perhaps the start of 2017 is just spread ourselves a little further around the world rather than having big weights in any particular sector and region right now,” he told CNBC on Monday.
The biggest risk facing markets now is inflation, Chung added. She explained that equities may be hit if faster inflation spurs major central banks to lift rates.
“This is the biggest risk in overall markets, not just in Asia but across the world,” she said, adding that there are signs of consumer price inflation bottoming out in major economies such as the U.S. and China.
For now, Chung said she expects the Federal Reserve to be “on track” in raising benchmark rates three times in 2018. “As long as the Fed is on this track and also prepare the market very well before they hike, I think it should be ok for the equity market,” she said.