Emerging Markets

Trade war isn't stopping emerging markets, where one analyst sees 'patches of growth stabilization'

Key Points
  • The escalation in U.S.-China trade war and concerns of a global growth slowdown over the last few months have rattled investors and destabilized markets.
  • The MSCI Emerging Market index, used to measure equity market performance in global emerging markets, is down more than 6% over a six-month period but is up more than 6% year to date.

Emerging market equities remain attractive despite trade tensions, and the sector is seeing "patches of growth stabilization," according to one analyst.

The escalation in U.S.-China trade war and concerns of a global growth slowdown over the last few months have rattled investors and destabilized markets.

The trade conflict offered a sign of easing this month after Washington indicated that phase one of a deal had been agreed upon by Beijing, but doubts continue to linger over the sustainability of this agreement.

This has pushed investors away from traditional assets that are yielding very low returns into safe-havens like gold and government bonds. But some analysts have claimed that emerging market equities continue to remain attractive.

"While continued tensions are likely to result in continued market volatility, we nonetheless find reasons to be positive about emerging markets, with a more dovish global central bank backdrop offering support," Chetan Sehgal, lead portfolio manager, and Andrew Ness, portfolio manager, Templeton Emerging Markets Investment Trust, said in a research note Monday.

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Central banks across the globe have been on a rate-cutting path, with countries like India lowering rates for the fifth time this year. The rate-cutting trend continues in the developed world as well, with the European Central Bank and the Federal Reserve turning dovish in order to stimulate the economy.

"We expect this trend to continue with rate cuts in a number of larger EMs, including India, Brazil, Russia and Mexico. Coupled with improving earnings expectations and relatively undemanding valuations and dividend yields, we believe the outlook for EM equities remains attractive," Sehgal and Ness said.

However, several analysts have claimed that more and more fiscal measures are being introduced in India in order to stimulate investment and growth along with the central bank's dovish monetary policy stance.

Emerging markets vs. developed markets

Emerging market stocks have not been immune to massive volatility over the last few months. The MSCI Emerging Market index, used to measure equity market performance in global emerging markets, is down more than 6% over a six-month period but is up more than 6% year-to-date. However, analysts believe some emerging market economies are seeing more growth than the developed world.

On Friday, China said its economy grew by 6% in the third quarter, the slowest since the first quarter of 1992, according to Reuters. However, analysts at Natwest have claimed the data pointed toward a stabilization in domestic demand.

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"Outside the U.S., there are patches of growth stabilization, especially in emerging markets. China has been an important part of the EM stabilization story and this past week's heavy data calendar was broadly consistent with the theme," James McCormick, global head of desk strategy at Natwest Markets, said in a research note Monday.

Several analysts have said that despite the fear of slowdown across the globe and the trickle-down effect of weakness in the developed world, some emerging market economies like India, China and Brazil continue to grow due to strong domestic demand and synchronized monetary-fiscal policy at home.

"The EM-DM (developed market) growth narrative is changing," emerging market analysts at Natwest Markets said in a note last week.

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