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“Investors seem to be more focused on the reopening economies than these social and geopolitical issues springing up. Overall investors’ sentiments are beginning to turn more bullish, with many betting on corporate numbers to improve very soon.”
“The markets have no conscience”
Recent headlines have been dominated by social unrest in the US, with protests breaking out in cities all over the country. Across the Pacific, Beijing has also announced its new national security law which would pave the way for China to set up national security institutions in Hong Kong. US President Donald Trump responded by saying that he will begin to take steps to revoke Hong Kong’s favored trade status with the US.
Nevertheless, the markets are still moving in the green. Investors seem to be more focused on the reopening economies than these social and geopolitical issues springing up. Overall investors’ sentiments are beginning to turn more bullish, with many betting on corporate numbers to improve very soon.
Source: Google COVID-19 Community Mobility Report, CoronaTracker
Major monetary and fiscal stimulus have continued to provide strong support to the markets and will continue to do so. Investors continue to shift funds to parts of the market they believe will be helped by economic reopening.
In spite of this, investors should remain cautious as we do not expect to see a smooth path to recovery, volatility will be here to stay. The attention may soon shift from the COVID-19 pandemic to the upcoming US Presidential Race and alsoback to the US-China trade war.
The situation is very fluid, and we keenly await the developments of events worldwide – such as developments of the social unrests, US Election campaigns and US-China tensions. Investors should remain patient and ready to react.We do not expect markets to test new lows as global monetary and fiscal policies will continue to remain conducive, and this will likely provide a floor to the economy.
We recommend adding gradual exposure over several phases on any significant pullbacks while continuing to maintain focus on our favored themes and strategies for the year.
There has been continued positive momentum and increasing signs of recovery in the fixed income environment, as more countries announce and prepare forthe reopening of their economies.US 10-Year Treasuries yielded around 0.71% as of 2nd June and we expect it to remain between 0.25%-1%until Q3 2020. At the same time,we forecast FED fund rates to remain unchanged at 0%-0.25% for the rest of 2020.The credit default swap (CDS) Index for the Asia ex-Japan Investment Grade entities in the past 2 weekshas dropped(from 112 to 101). Credit spread has dropped by 11bps, reflecting a more stable and positive outlook moving forward.
We caution investors holding marginal investment graded bonds (BBB-, Baa3) to be wary of rating agency downgrades.Also, emerging market bonds from countries such as India, Turkey, Mexico and Brazil may continue to face further downgrades. For clients holding such bonds, we recommend against over exposure to single issuers and to increase diversification. For investors with aninvestment grade bond portfolio mandate, we recommend BBB+ IG grades or higher – IG bonds are expected to yield around 2% p.a. in the near future.For investment grade bonds we suggest a shorter duration of 3.5 – 4 years.
CDS Asia ex-Japan Index5-year Chart (Source: Bloomberg)
We again recommend investors to stick to short dated high quality (BB Rated) High Yield bonds with a duration of less than 2 years which would offer the best value.Investors should also have sufficient holding power to hold these bonds to maturity. Geographically, we are overweight Emerging market bonds and neutral on Developed markets.
Further, we recommend investors to match their exposure of high-beta bonds such as: CoCo Bonds, Perpetuals and high yield bonds to their respective risk appetites.Loan-to-value ratios may fluctuate drasticallydue to rating agency downgrades and therefore investors are advised to lower their leverage and have some bufferto mitigate the potential volatility that will still exist in bonds prices. It is also recommended for investors to hold a diversified fixed income portfolio due to various uncertainties across sectors.
Overall, we recommend a balanced and diversifiedportfolio of high quality (BB rated) high yield bonds and short duration IG Bonds.
Since our last overview, the equities market has continued to be bullish in the last 2 weeks, with the S&P500 Indexsuccessfully breaking the 3000-point level.Investors seem to be fixated on the reopening of economies around the world rather than the recent protests in the US.Another important factor in keeping equities aloft is no doubt the strong fiscal and monetary programs still being rolled out.However, we expect the markets to remain extremely volatile as we continue to see unrests and uncertainties. These incidents are likely to delay the reopening of the US economy, but we do not foresee it being a major long-term issue. With that being said, we recommend investors to stayinvested, while remaining nimble in their equitiesallocations and strategies.
Notwithstanding, investors should also consider setting aside some cash as buffer to capitalise on the expected volatility throughout the rest of the year. More and more attention will be shifted from the COVID-19 situation to the upcoming US Elections towards the second half of the year, with a key focus being on the US-China trade war.Accordingly, investors should look to consider taking moreshort-term tactical trades when the opportunity presents itself on significant market pullbacks. The traditional “buy-and-hold” strategy will likely not yield a good return in volatile market.
S&P 500 1-year Chart (Source: Bloomberg)
We recommend gradually increasing or initiating exposure into quality blue-chip names with strong balance sheets and solid fundamentals especially in the technology sector (example: 5G related technology and online economy themes) on any significant pullback in the markets.
Concurrently, investors may want to start looking into beaten down sectors or laggards such as airlines, consumer retail and certain industrials. Such investments should not however, make up a large portion of the overall portfolio and investors should only focus on the blue-chip names in these sectors. Increase exposure into these sectors gradually as they may take some time to recover fully.
Overall, we recommend staying Overweight large cap and the technology sector, and to also start to accumulate some laggards whose business will stand to benefit or improve as economies start to reopen. Utilise a more tactical trading approach and continue to adhere to strict risk management principles (stop-loss and/or appropriate hedging) to mitigate risks from possible sudden and significant market moves. Lastly, any buying should be staggered across several phases.
This material is provided for informational purposes only. It is not a recommendation or solicitation of any investment or investment strategy. There is no guarantee that any investment or strategy will achieve its objectives. Unless otherwise stated, all information contained in this document is from Raffles Assets Management (HK) Ltd. and/or Raffles Family Office Pte Ltd (Singapore) and is as of 2 June 2020. The views expressed regarding market and economic trends are those of the authors and are subject to change at any time based on market and other conditions and there can be no assurances that countries, markets or sectors will perform as expected. By acceptance of these materials, you agree that you shall use the information solely to evaluate your investment in this Raffles Assets Management (HK) Ltd and/or Raffles Family Office Pte Ltd (Singapore) sponsored investment opportunity and you shall keep the information confidential.
Mr. Derek Loh is the Head of Equities at Raffles Family Office. Derek has numerous years of work experience from top asset management firms and Banks – 13 Years on the Buy-side across 3 Major Cities in Hong Kong, Singapore and Tokyo. Derek demonstrates in-depth industrial knowledge and analysis, covering mostly listed equities.
Ex-Portfolio Manager for ACA Capital Group, managing a multi-billion dollar global fund for a world-renowned sovereign wealth fund and reputable institutional investors. Previous notable Investors serviced include Norges Bank (Norwegian Central Bank), Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Mubadala. Derek holds an Executive MBA from Kellogg School Of Management and HKUST. He is also a CPA.
Mr. Lawrence CHAN is Head of Fixed Income of Raffles, where he is responsible for credit and fixed income investments.
Mr. CHAN has over 15 years of experience in the fixed income industry. Prior to joining Raffles, he was Chief Investment Officer (Fixed Income Investment Department) of Taiping Assets Management (HK) Co. Ltd. to manage China Taiping Group’s offshore bond investments and co-manage MPF & ORSO funds for China Life Trustees. His co-managed China Life Guaranteed Return Fund won various awards from Bloomberg Businessweek (2015-2017), BENCHMARK (2015) and MPF Ratings (2015-2016). He had worked for various financial institutions, including Taikang Asset Management (HK) Co. Ltd., Deutsche Bank AG (HK Branch) and Hong Kong Monetary Authority.
Mr. CHAN graduated with a Master’s degree in Finance from The Chinese University of Hong Kong and a Bachelor’s degree in Accountancy (with First Class Honours) from City University of Hong Kong (formerly known as City Polytechnic of Hong Kong). He is a CFA charterholder, Hong Kong CPA, and a Fellow of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (“ACCA”).