united kingdomen
China on-site: renminbi worries and the rise of A-shares

China on-site: renminbi worries and the rise of A-shares

30-04-2018 | Insight

How worried should investors be about the renminbi? In this edition of our China on-site series we give our take on China’s currency and also discuss the increasing accessibility to China’s vast onshore equity market.

  • Victoria  Mio
    Victoria
    Mio
    CIO China, co-Head Asia Pacific Equities, Fund Manager Robeco Chinese Equities
  • Hauke Ris
    Hauke
    Ris
    Client Portfolio Manager Asia-Pacific Equity
  • Jie Lu
    Jie
    Lu
    Head of Research China

Speed read

  • Renminbi under control?
  • The rise of Chinese A-shares
  • MSCI to include Chinese A-shares in June

Concern: the renminbi

Although currently concerns have abated, every now and then investor worries crop up about the renminbi. We have confidence, however, that China has its currency under control.

Over the last few years, the Chinese government has undertaken an extensive process to liberalize and internationalize the renminbi, which is now the sixth most used currency in world trade.

Stay informed on emerging markets with monthly mail updates
Stay informed on emerging markets with monthly mail updates
Subscribe

Nervousness

The main reason for investors to get nervous, is the prospect of a weakening renminbi, causing Chinese investors to lose confidence in the national currency and looking for ways to invest their money outside of China, triggering a downward spiral.

However, we see the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) managing this risk carefully. Since late 2015, it manages the currency against a basket of currencies (China Foreign Exchange Trade System or CFETS), and no longer versus the USD alone. Capital controls mean that only limited amounts of money can leave the country. Stepped up measures worked well in early 2017, for example, when investors were nervous because of shrinking Chinese reserves. The PBOC intervened by strengthening its capital controls, causing the renminbi to stabilize and markets to relax. Figure 1 shows that the renminbi has been quite stable of late.

Figure 1 | RMB has been satble against CFETS basket of currencies

Source: CFETS, Bloomberg

Confidence in PBOC

Of course, renminbi worries may re-appear, which can have a short-term impact on market sentiment and is an important issue to watch. Longer term, however, we have confidence in the PBOC’s ability to safeguard the currency’s stability.

Opportunity: the advance of Chinese A-shares

Chinese A-shares, trading on two exchanges in Shanghai and Shenzhen, are becoming increasingly important. As the A-share market is opening up to investors and MSCI plans to include A-shares this year, a lot of capital is expected to flow into the onshore Chinese market.

Different China exposure

A-shares offer investors access to themes that are less well represented in the offshore universe. Some sectors that make up the ‘new economy’, like healthcare, mass market consumer products, services and technology, are showing better growth than the market as a whole. They account for about 40% of total A-share market capitalization. The market also offers exposure to state-owned enterprises, which we expect to make significant progress in terms of mixed ownership and corporate governance.

The A-share market offers broad exposure to China, and is currently still lowly correlated with the offshore Chinese market, and other global equity markets.

China opening up

The vast A-share market, which makes up over 70% of the Chinese market, is increasingly opening up to foreign investors. At the start in 1990, only domestic investors could purchase A-shares. From 2002, foreign institutional investors that met strict conditions were granted access in the shape of quotas. In 2014, the Shanghai-Hong Kong and in 2016, the Shenzhen-Hong Kong Stock Connect schemes were launched, providing further access. They allowed investors to easily trade shares on the other markets using their local brokers and clearing houses.

The catalyst: MSCI inclusion

In June, MSCI is to include Chinese A-shares in the MSCI Emerging Markets Index, starting with a 5% inclusion factor. This is an important step, as we expect it to support the renminbi and improve the A-share market’s investor structure from retail-dominated to a more balanced mix of institutional and retail investors. Furthermore, we expect the inclusion to improve China’s capital market liberalization and regulation. Full inclusion will take five to ten years, depending on progress in market accessibility.

Figure 2 | Roadmap for inclusion of Chine A Shares in MSCI

Source: MSCI,Robeco, Macquarie

Major new themes, such as the consumption upgrade due to China’s growing middle class, the Made in China 2025 initiative to become a quality producer, and China’s leadership in technology and innovation, are creating many investment opportunities. The Chinese A-share market is a good place to gain access to them.

In the next edition: trade wars and opportunities in the healthcare sector.

Subjects related to this article are:

Disclaimer

Please read this important information before proceeding further. It contains legal and regulatory notices relevant to the information contained on this website.

The information contained in the Website is NOT FOR RETAIL CLIENTS - The information contained in the Website is solely intended for professional investors, defined as investors which (1) qualify as professional clients within the meaning of the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID), (2) have requested to be treated as professional clients within the meaning of the MiFID or (3) are authorized to receive such information under any other applicable laws. The value of the investments may fluctuate. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Investors may not get back the amount originally invested. Neither Robeco Institutional Asset Management B.V. nor any of its affiliates guarantees the performance or the future returns of any investments. If the currency in which the past performance is displayed differs from the currency of the country in which you reside, then you should be aware that due to exchange rate fluctuations the performance shown may increase or decrease if converted into your local currency.

In the UK, Robeco Institutional Asset Management B.V. (“ROBECO”) only markets its funds to institutional clients and professional investors. Private investors seeking information about ROBECO should visit our corporate website www.robeco.com or contact their financial adviser. ROBECO will not be liable for any damages or losses suffered by private investors accessing these areas.

In the UK, ROBECO Funds has marketing approval for the funds listed on this website, all of which are UCITS funds. ROBECO is authorized by the AFM and subject to limited regulation by the Financial Conduct Authority. Details about the extent of our regulation by the Financial Conduct Authority are available from us on request.

Many of the protections provided by the United Kingdom regulatory framework may not apply to investments in ROBECO Funds, including access to the Financial Services Compensation Scheme and the Financial Ombudsman Service. No representation, warranty or undertaking is given as to the accuracy or completeness of the information on this website.

If you are not an institutional client or professional investor you should therefore not proceed. By proceeding please note that we will be treating you as a professional client for regulatory purposes and you agree to be bound by our terms and conditions.

If you do not accept these terms and conditions, as well as the terms of use of the website, please do not continue to use or access any pages on this website.

I Disagree