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Volatility in Chinese markets has been a constant topic of discussion since the start of the year, but what does it mean for yield-hungry retail investors?
Chinese stocks suffered a bruising January, losing circa 20 percent, amid the release of weaker-than-expected manufacturing data and concerns over central bank policy. This rattled investors and retail fund managers across the globe and caused major volatility in developed markets.
However, robust trade data from China on Wednesday morning has led to some optimism in the emerging markets space once again. The country's exports rose 11.5 percent in March versus a year earlier, data showed. This is the first increase since June and the largest percentage rise since February 2015.
"The Chinese data means global demand for Chinese products has jumped and they are selling more to the world, so a possible start to stabilization in the economy," Nandini Ramakrishnan, global markets strategist at JP Morgan Asset Management told CNBC via email.
She further explained that this can be seen as a sign of higher demand in general which is a good sign for all economies.
Analysts had earlier warned that the Chinese slowdown could have an impact on other developed and emerging markets, causing concern among retail investors (individuals that trade for themselves rather than for an organization).
However, those bullish on the economy believe the slowdown was temporary since the country is slowly moving its focus from manufacturing to services. The massive size of the Chinese economy and its contribution to global GDP (gross domestic product) is one of the reasons a potential slowdown can be a concern not just for investors but also for central bank governors such as Janet Yellen, chair of the U.S. Federal Reserve.
The emerging markets sector had a rough ride last year due to factors such as plunging oil prices and the interest rate tightening cycle in the U.S. Add to that the pressure of slowing growth in China and political uncertainty in some economies, retail investors have found themselves searching for calmer territories.
However, market experts have said now might be a good time to revisit emerging markets space. Indeed, the iShares MSCI Emerging Markets ETF (exchange-traded fund) saw a rise of around 14 percent in the first quarter of 2016.
"While these headwinds persist, there are signs, at least, that emerging market equities might now be worth another look for those with the patience and skill to ride out the turbulence," Ramakrishnan added.
With commodity prices now seeing a slight rebound, some expect emerging markets to edge higher as the year progresses amid more volatility.
"Oil could reach $50 per barrel. What does this all mean for investors? We would say more of the same," Julian Chillingworth, CIO at Rathbones, told CNBC via telephone.
He explained that investors remain nervous on the back of slowing global growth despite Chinese growth picking up again. "In our view, recent developments do not mark a significant step change. We expect a continuation of volatility in the year ahead as investors remain sensitive to data disappointment."
In a statement Wednesday on the oil price rally, Schroders' Head of Commodities, Geoff Blanning, explained that a slowdown in oil production growth combined with sustained record levels of demand and a reversal of deeply-depressed investment demand is already boosting the oil price and could underpin a sustained rally in 2016.
While asset managers continue to remain bullish on emerging market funds, they tend to stay away from commodity stocks and exposure to the oil and gas sector. In the past few months, a number of emerging market equity funds have been launched for U.K. retail investors with exposure to sectors such as financials, industrials and technology among others.
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