From Vietnam to Taiwan, foreign investors offload Asian equities

Foreign investors dumped Asian equities in the first six days of August after two months of buying. (Shutterstock)
Updated 07 August 2019

From Vietnam to Taiwan, foreign investors offload Asian equities

  • MSCI Asia-ex-Japan index has fallen 6.4 percent this month

BENGALURU: Foreign investors dumped Asian equities in the first six days of August after two months of buying, as the US ramped up pressure on China with a $300 billion trade barrage last week.

Overseas investors sold about $4.5 billion of regional equities during the period, data from stock exchanges in South Korea, Taiwan, India, Thailand, Philippines, Indonesia, and Vietnam showed.

Sharp outflows from Asian markets point to increased worries that trade tensions between the world’s two top economies could escalate, and regional economies and corporate earnings might deteriorate further.

US President Donald Trump said last Thursday he would slap a 10 percent tariff on the remaining $300 billion of Chinese imports starting Sept. 1, marking an end to a truce in the year-long trade war that was struck in June.

In response, China let its currency weaken 1.4 percent on Monday, sending it past the key 7-per-dollar level for the first time in more than a decade, and then the United States labeled Beijing a currency manipulator.

MSCI Asia-ex-Japan index had fallen 6.4 percent this month as of Tuesday’s close, after shedding 1.7 percent in July.

“Recent foreign outflows from Asian equities clearly suggest that investors are getting nervous on markets given escalating trade tensions,” said Chetan Seth, a strategist for Nomura Securities in Singapore.

It might get harder for the US and China to ease or soften these tensions given how events have unfolded over the last few days, he said.

Goldman Sachs said markets were pricing in a less than 15 percent chance of a trade deal being agreed. It estimated 13 percent and 8 percent cumulative earnings downside for MSCI China and MSCI Asia-ex-Japan in 2019-2020 under a “no deal” scenario.

Taiwan and India saw the biggest outflows in Asia, with net selling of $1.8 billion and $1.1 billion respectively. South Korea also witnessed outflows, of $919 million.

Taiwan and South Korean companies are more exposed to the Sino-US trade tussle as they have extensive ties with tech firms in China and are part of their supply chains.

Indian shares were undermined last month after the federal budget raised import tariffs on many items, hiked taxes on the rich and proposed changes in shareholding norms.

A slew of disappointing earnings by Asian firms for the second quarter also increased investor caution on regional markets.

Refinitiv data showed major Asian firms such as Tata Motors , Canon Inc. and Nissan have posted second-quarter earnings below expectations.

“So far 1H earnings in Asia-ex-Japan markets have been below estimates – although still early days. The question investors need to answer is what happens to 2020 earnings as markets in 2H will start discounting next year’s earnings,” said Nomura’s Seth.

“If trade tensions persist, there may be more downside to current consensus earnings estimates.”

In July, foreigners had invested $234 million in Asia, much lesser than $4.2 billion inflows in June.


IMF warns of Asia’s darkening growth outlook as trade war bites

Updated 59 min 46 sec ago

IMF warns of Asia’s darkening growth outlook as trade war bites

  • The IMF cut its economic growth forecast for the Asia-Pacific region to 5.0 percent for this year and 5.1 percent for 2020
  • It also slashed China’s growth forecast to 6.1 percent for this year and 5.8 percent for 2020
WASHINGTON: Asian nations face heightening risks to their economic outlooks as the US-China trade war and slumping Chinese demand hurt the world’s fastest-growing region, the International Monetary Fund said on Friday.
In its World Economic Outlook report on Tuesday, the IMF cut its economic growth forecast for the Asia-Pacific region to 5.0 percent for this year and 5.1 percent for 2020 — the slowest pace of expansion since the global financial crisis more than a decade ago.
“Headwinds from global policy uncertainty and growth deceleration in major trading partners are taking a toll on manufacturing, investment, trade, and growth,” Changyong Rhee, director of the IMF’s Asia and Pacific department, said during a news conference at the IMF and World Bank fall meetings.
“Risks are skewed to the downside,” he said, calling on policymakers in the region to focus on near-term fiscal and monetary policy steps to spur growth.
“The intensification in trade tensions between the US and China could further weigh on confidence and financial markets, thereby weakening trade, investment and growth,” he said.
A faster-than-expected slowdown in China’s economic growth could also generate negative spillovers in the region, as many Asian countries have supply chains closely tied to China, he added.
The IMF slashed China’s growth forecast to 6.1 percent for this year and 5.8 percent for 2020, pointing to the impact from the trade conflict and tighter regulation to address excess debt.