World Markets

The unintended beneficiary of ECB’s policy move

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The European Central Bank (ECB) is back in "whatever it takes" mode to stimulate the sputtering economy and Asian markets are set to benefit, say strategists.

"The added euro zone liquidity will not find easy outlets in Europe. Bonds are expensive; the German and French 2-year note yields dropped below zero. Some funds will flow into periphery bonds; some into equities and hold their breath," Uwe Parpart, chief strategist at Reorient Group wrote in a note on Friday.

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"But a good deal of liquidity will be outbound," he said.

The ECB surprised investors on Thursday, cutting interest rates to record lows and announcing a program to buy asset-backed securities and covered bonds starting in October.

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As the strengthening U.S. dollar makes U.S. stocks less attractive to foreign buyers, the added liquidity will flow into Asia, said Parpart, highlighting China and Japan in particular.

"As the U.S. dollar gains, the declines -- that's [Nikkei] positive, [especially] if the BOJ (Bank of Japan) also eases further. Meanwhile, the China rally continues and is supported both by still-low valuations and varieties of financial regulatory measures," he said. Chinese stocks are up over 9 percent year to date; Japanese equities, however, are down 3.5 percent.

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The benchmark and traded up 0.5 percent and 0.2 percent, respectively, on Friday.

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Dariusz Kowalczyk, a senior economist and strategist at Credit Agricole, agrees emerging market assets stand to benefit from the ECB's policy move.

"ECB plans to boost the size of its balance sheet by almost half should have some spillover effects in terms of capital flows into EMs, supporting Asian equity markets," he said.

This also means a rally of Asian currencies against the euro, he added.

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With European interest rates at record lows, the euro will likely become a popular carry trade, with investors funding investments in higher yielding assets including emerging market currencies.

"What we're seeing is liquidity is set to ramp up, volatility is still low and as a result carry structures are still in place," said Weston.

"Now we say, what's our funding currency? It's clearly the euro, no other currency. And then we ask where can I get yield? And you want to be long emerging markets, the Australian dollar, and high yielding Latin American currencies," he said.