We expect the stimulus measures to support equity markets. The ongoing rebalancing of the Chinese economy has brought new themes to the fore. Consumption upgrade, technology and innovation are set to create multiple new opportunities for investors. Also, the MSCI China A shares inclusion is offering access to significant long-term investment opportunities.
The inclusion of Chinese A-shares in the MSCI Emerging Markets Index that took place last June is a landmark step for China’s integration into global markets. It is expected to boost investors’ interest in Chinese firms and to enable a large amount of capital to flow into the onshore Chinese market. The China A-share market is the world’s second largest equity market after the US.
After the initial inclusion, MSCI upped the proportion of A-shares from 5% to 20%, which will support the renminbi. Furthermore, the inclusion is expected to facilitate the further development of China’s capital markets. Full inclusion will most likely take five to ten years, depending on how much progress is made in terms of market accessibility. The A-share market offers broad exposure to China, and its correlation with the global equity markets is currently still low. Because it is in an early stage of development, it provides significant opportunities for active managers.
China’s consumption is seeing a slowdown and an upgrade at the same time. Its structure is changing as the country’s middle class continues to grow, with rising spending power due to higher wages. Young adults are spending money on entertainment and innovative products. A growing group of aging Chinese are spending more on services, such as financial services and health care. In short, China is witnessing the emergence of a ‘new’ economy that is driven by these sectors. At the same time, the share of the ‘old’, production-oriented economy will shrink even further. The ‘new’ economy currently makes up over 55% of the MSCI China’s market cap. The themes related to consumption upgrade, and technology and innovation offer access to investment opportunities.
In 2018, the clash of Xi’s ‘China Dream’ and Trump’s ‘Make America Great Again’ has caused turmoil in the US-China relationship. The two parties currently look to be resolving the trade dispute. China and the US are in the final stages of their negotiations, and the deal might happen soon as settling the dispute seems to be in everybody’s interest.
In the run-up to this deal, a number of issues remain outstanding, including market access, intellectual property, the currency exchange rate and a verification mechanism for enforcing commitments. The US is insisting on such a mechanism, and the possible use of punitive tariffs. Mio does not expect the trade dispute to escalate.
Following the lows of last October, China’s markets are currently beginning to recover with corporate earnings bottoming out. Last year the government implemented several policy steps to stimulate China’s economy on various fronts. At the macro level, China has shifted towards looser monetary policy and more expansionary fiscal policy. In order to facilitate the ongoing trade talks, China has stepped up efforts to attract foreign capital by widening market access, and opening up the financial sector.
The government also took steps to ease capital constraints for big banks, which has boosted loan growth. It is also in the process of introducing tax cuts, including a recent three-percent VAT cut for a group of industries, with more tax cuts to follow. The government will also continue to issue special bonds to fund infrastructure projects.
We expect the stimulus measures to boost consumer confidence and corporate earnings, and support Chinese equity markets. A resolution of the ongoing trade dispute between the US and China looks highly likely. This dispute is expected to be less of a driving force for markets going forward.