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Why Asian investors should not sweat an early taper

Bay Ismoyo | AFP | Getty Images

Renewed expectations that tapering might come sooner than expected could unnerve investors in Asia, but some analysts argue there's no need to fear a repeat of the 'taper tantrum' seen earlier this year.

Emerging markets saw a sharp selloff from late May to June as worries over the Federal Reserve winding down its flow of easy money prompted a mass exodus from risk assets. The MSCI Emerging Markets index plummeted over 16 percent as a result, even though the dreaded 'taper' is still yet to occur.

(Read more: Fed taper in 2014?)

Positive data out of the U.S. last week, including stronger-than-expected nonfarm payrolls and annualized third-quarter gross domestic product growth of 2.8 percent, has revived the tapering debate once again.

However, Frederic Neumann, co-head of Asian economic research at HSBC, said Asian financial markets are more resilient now and there are a number of reasons to be optimistic.

"This doesn't mean a Fed policy shift will not cause wobbles... It's just that these will be more easily digested than before," he said.

Firstly, U.S. interest rates are trading around 1.6 percent, much higher than in May, Neumann pointed out. As a result, another 100 basis-point spike like the one triggered in late May appears unlikely, he argued.

Furthermore, market conditions and sentiment are much better than they were earlier this year when the tapering debate first arose, Neumann added. Better economic data out of China has eased headwinds stemming from concerns about a slowdown in the world's second-largest economy, while emerging markets have generally proven more resilient than expected in recent months, he said.

Indeed, the MSCI Emerging Market index has recovered 13 percent since hitting a low of 877.73 in early June, while two of the worst-hit emerging markets, India and Indonesia, have seen some recovery in their stock markets and currencies.

(Read more: Missed taper opportunity in September: Fed's Plosser)

Indian stocks, for example, have recovered over 17 percent after hitting a low of 17,448.71 in late August.

"For all the taper jitters, the region has held its own in the past few months. Talk of a 1997-style crisis was always overdone," said Neumann.

Other analysts also said they were more confident about how Asian markets would withstand renewed 'taper talk' this time round.

"There was concern over contagion three months ago," said Richard Jerram, chief economist at the Bank of Singapore. "Now I think there is a broader recognition that most Asian economies are more robust, so that should be less of a worry."

Another positive factor flagged by HSBC's Neumann was the fact that other major central banks around the world are showing a bias to looser monetary policy, which would therefore be supportive for risk assets.

(Read more: Emerging market reprieve is only temporary: Pimco)

He pointed to the Bank of Japan, which embarked on a $1.4 trillion asset purchase program in April, and the European Central Bank interest rate cut last week, as key examples.

However, the Bank of Singapore's Jerram said it was difficult to see the ECB's recent interest rate cut as positive, considering the move was carried out in an effort to tackle deflation worries, essentially a negative for markets.

Tim Condon, head of research for Asia at ING bank, agreed that the next bout of taper turmoil was set to be less severe than the last.

However, he disputed that this would be driven by any signs of increased resilience in Asian financial markets, and said ultimately, Asian investors' reactions would all come down to Treasury yields.

(Read more: Emerging markets poised for further rally: BofA-ML)

Condon said yields on U.S. 10-year notes, which traded at around 2.76 percent on Tuesday, were unlikely to spike beyond the 3 percent level, reducing the possibility of another 100 basis point spike.

He warned that the battered down emerging market currencies, like the Indonesian rupiah and Indian rupee, would remain the most vulnerable to another 'taper tantrum.'

—By CNBC's Katie Holliday: Follow her on Twitter @hollidaykatie

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