Emerging markets bounce back

Last year emerging market stocks fell by nearly a quarter, says Marina Gerner. But in 2019 it has been a different story.

943-China-634
China's stimulus will lift emerging markets

Last year emerging market stocks fell by nearly a quarter. But in 2019 it has been a different story. The benchmark MSCI Emerging Markets Index has gained 13%. Chalk it up to "a new liquidity environment", say Will Denyer and Udith Sikand of Gavekal Research.

"Tighter US dollar liquidity made 2018 a terrible year for risk assets." When US interest rates are rising and the dollar is strong, money tends to flow out of traditionally risky assets, such as emerging markets, and into US securities with rising yields.

But for now, the market is expecting "abundant liquidity" for the rest of the year, given that the US Federal Reserve has paused interest-rate hikes and is set to pause its quantitative tightening (QT, the reversal of its money-printing programme). The European Central Bank has been dovish too, and intends to keep rates low for longer. In short, monetary policy is no longer a headwind for emerging markets.

China will provide a boost

Inflows have picked up and emerging market equities are "repeatedly mentioned as sectors investors feel comfortable allocating towards", says Andrew Sheets, a strategist at Morgan Stanley. That's partly because appealing valuations come with the improving outlook. Forward price-earnings ratios of around 12 are a tad above their ten-year average, but cheap compared with most developed markets.

Positive structural change

The same number of countries now have limits on government debt and spending. In recent years current-account, or external, deficits have declined, which makes countries less vulnerableto downturns.

In addition, the long-term drivers of emerging market growth have shifted from commodity-driven sectors to consumption and technology. After peaking at 40% of the emerging market equity universe in 2008, commodities now make up less than 15%, while technology and consumer sectors comprise over 40%. These days, then, there is far more variety within the long-term emerging market growth story.

Recommended

I wish I knew what an emerging market was, but I’m too embarrassed to ask
Too embarrassed to ask

I wish I knew what an emerging market was, but I’m too embarrassed to ask

This week's “too embarrassed to ask” explains what emerging markets are, and why you might want to invest in them.
9 Sep 2020
Bullish investors return to emerging markets
Stockmarkets

Bullish investors return to emerging markets

The ink had barely dried on the US-China trade deal before the bulls began pouring into emerging markets.
27 Jan 2020
The currencies to bet on this year
Currencies

The currencies to bet on this year

The US dollar could be set to weaken this year, while the euro, Canadian dollar and the Swiss franc could be good bets for optimistic traders.
17 Jan 2020
Beware the hidden risks when investing in emerging markets
Investment strategy

Beware the hidden risks when investing in emerging markets

Emerging markets look cheap compared with developed countries, but earnings may be less trustworthy.
23 Dec 2019

Most Popular

The electric-car bubble could get an awful lot bigger from here
Renewables

The electric-car bubble could get an awful lot bigger from here

The switch to electric cars is driving a huge investment bubble. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing, says John Stepek. Fortunes will be made and l…
24 Sep 2020
Can Rishi Sunak’s winter plan save the UK economy?
UK Economy

Can Rishi Sunak’s winter plan save the UK economy?

With his Winter Economic Plan, chancellor Rishi Sunak is hoping to support the economy through the dark months ahead as restrictions tighten again. Jo…
25 Sep 2020
The rising dollar is proving bad news for most other assets – will it last?
Investment strategy

The rising dollar is proving bad news for most other assets – will it last?

Precious metals, stocks and pretty much every other asset has taken a tumble as the US dollar strengthens. Dominic Frisby looks at how long this trend…
23 Sep 2020