2019 will be the 'year of the bull' for Chinese stocks, market watcher says

It's officially the year of the pig, but when it comes to Chinese stocks, it's looking more like the year of the bull.

Chinese stocks have outperformed their U.S. counterparts recently. The FXI, which tracks the biggest China-based companies, has gained more than 4 percent in the last six months, while the S&P 500 has shed nearly 3 percent.

This comes amid an ongoing trade battle between the United States and China over tariffs, with the Chinese delegation currently in Washington for trade negotiations ahead of the March 2 deadline when increased tariffs could go into effect.

Despite the political uncertainty, two market experts argue that the run in Chinese stocks is just getting started.

"I like China; I'd be buying at current levels," Newton Advisors' Mark Newton said Wednesday on CNBC's "Trading Nation." "Take a look at the FXI. We've pushed up to levels right near $43.56. I think this is really an important level. I think if you look back over the last few months getting up above the $43.65 level should cause further acceleration higher."

The last time the FXI traded there was in June. Newton points out that a bullish base has been forming since the beginning of January, which indicates that a breakout could be near.

He attributes much of the recent strength to a pullback in the dollar, which is typically good for emerging markets.

Overall, he argues that the move higher in Chinese stocks is set to continue in the months and maybe "years to come," and that "2019 might turn out to be the year of the bull not the year of the pig for China."

Newton isn't the only one taking note of the FXI's move higher. According to Susquehanna's Stacey Gilbert, options traders are betting that this trade hasn't yet run its course.

"When we look at both the ETFs and the options investors certainly are agreeing … that where could be more upside here," Gilbert said. She notes that traders are specifically buying FXI calls at the $44 strike level, which means they are betting the ETF breaks above that level in the near term.

While highlighting the options volume in the FXI, Gilbert was quick to note that this isn't an ETF-specific bet. Rather, investors are buying many different ETFs that aim to capture any upside out of China.

"Overall, I would say yes both on the cash level as well as the options level, investors are positioning bullish for China," she said.

Disclosure: Susquehanna is a market maker in the securities of China market ETFs FXI, ASHR and GXC.

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Trading Nation is a multimedia financial news program that shows investors and traders how to use the news of the day to their advantage. This is where experts from across the financial world – including macro strategists, technical analysts, stock-pickers, and traders who specialize in options, currencies, and fixed income – come together to find the best ways to capitalize on recent developments in the market. Trading Nation: Where headlines become opportunities.

Michael Santoli

Michael Santoli joined CNBC in October 2015 as a Senior Markets Commentator, based at the network's Global Headquarters in Englewood Cliffs, N.J.  Santoli brings his extensive markets expertise to CNBC's Business Day programming, with a regular appearance on CNBC's “Closing Bell (M-F, 3PM-5PM ET).   In addition, he contributes to CNBCand CNBC PRO, writing regular articles and creating original digital videos.

Previously, Santoli was a Senior Columnist at Yahoo Finance, where he wrote analysis and commentary on the stock market, corporate news and the economy. He also appeared on Yahoo Finance video programs, where he offered insights on the most important business stories of the day, and was a regular contributor to CNBC and other networks.

Follow Michael Santoli on Twitter @michaelsantoli

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