The MSCI Emerging Markets index has gained almost a tenth since 1 January. Since early 2016 it has jumped by 83%, and is now close to its 2007 all-time high. Global investors poured $7.9bn into emerging-market equity funds last week, a record five-day tally, says Morgan Stanley.
You can see why. Emerging markets are a geared play on global growth because they tend to be more reliant on trade than the industrialised world. Global growth hasn’t been this robust since the crisis, while the World Bank is pencilling in growth of 4.5% in emerging markets this year, up from 4.3% last year. A weak dollar is another key ingredient in the emerging-market rally.
Whenever the greenback looks set to strengthen, assets in the world’s biggest economy become more appealing to global investors; risky ones, such as emerging markets, less so.
The US administration’s protectionist tendencies bear watching, but “for all Trump’s talk… [emerging-market] exports to the US increased by about 7% during his first year in office”, says Capital Economics.
The proportion of US imports subject to trade restrictions has risen steadily since 2013, but this appears to have had scant impact on developing-country exports. The latest measures amount to little. Investors will hope that his bark remains worse than his bite.