Are Asia’s markets facing a ‘hike hissy’?

Equities and currencies across emerging Asia have dropped precipitously but it’s more of a hike hissy than a replay of the taper tantrum rout two years ago, analysts said.

“This is just global investors taking some money back from some of the emerging markets or not investing new money in some of the local currency bond markets,” Khiem Do, head of Asia multi-asset at Baring Asset Management, said. “I don’t think it’s any kind of tantrum.”

Asia’s markets have shuddered this week, spurred on by a “hike hissy” as the U.S. Federal Reserve appears closer to its first interest rate increase since moving to a zero-rate policy in 2008 after last week’s better-than-expected jobs data.

On Tuesday, the Jakarta Composite Index tumbled 2.3 percent for a total 6.1 percent drop so far in June as Indonesia’s rupiah hit its lowest against the greenback since 1998, during the Asian Financial Crisis. Malaysia’s ringgit touched its lowest against the U.S. dollar since 2006 and against the Singapore dollar, it’s at its lowest in at least 20 years. In the Philippines, shares dropped 2.2 percent Tuesday, while the Philippine currency was tapping its weakest against the greenback since early 2014, during the taper tantrum.

Read More What the bond rout means for emerging markets

That rout was spurred by then Fed chief Ben Bernanke first broaching a plan for the U.S. central bank to begin tapering its asset purchases, which spurred massive fund outflows amid concerns liquidity would take a hit.

The 2013 selloff saw $14.1 billion exit emerging market equity funds, while $14.04 billion said good-bye to the segment’s bond funds in 2013, according to data from Barclays.

But Bernanke’s statement in 2013 was a surprise to markets, while the Fed has been actively signaling the coming rate hike to markets since last year, Do noted, attributing the recent drop to profit-taking.

Others also don’t expect the hike hissy to blow up into a full-blown rout.

“There are several reasons not to expect a mass exodus of capital from emerging Asia,” analysts at Nomura said in a note Monday.” Fed lift off is probably the world’s most even anticipated monetary policy event,” Nomura said, adding that Asian countries also don’t have much of a foreign currency debt mismatch if the U.S. dollar continues to appreciate.

“Continued quantitative easing (QE) by the European Central Bank (ECB) and Bank of Japan (BOJ) will provide some offset to Fed lift off,” Nomura said.

The bank also expects oil prices will decline, calling that “unambiguously positive” for Asia’s large oil importers.

Some noted that the taper tantrum wasn’t necessarily all that big a deal.

“In hindsight, and taking the post Global Financial Crisis period as a whole, the portfolio outflows from Asia during the Taper tantrum look but a brief blip,” Sameer Goel, a strategist at Deutsche Bank, said in a note last week. “Of the $350 billion which had come into Asia (ex-China) since the beginning of 2009, only $38 billion left during the summer of 2013. And have since been more than made up in terms of fresh inflows, with cumulative portfolio purchases of Asia (ex-China) assets standing now at $440 billion.”

Some are expecting the dramatic rise in the U.S. dollar, which has pressured emerging market currencies, may be nearing an end.

“Being bullish on the U.S. dollar is a trickier proposal than usual, given the strong appreciation in the currency and the expected exit from super loose monetary policy,” Societe Generale said in a note Tuesday. It’s expecting commodity and emerging market currencies will get support.

Societe Generale also expects Asian shares will outperform after some summer volatility, supported by the region’s accommodative policy and structural reforms.

To be sure, it’s not all coming up roses for all of Asia’s emerging markets.

Some look vulnerable, Nomura noted, citing Indonesia’s continuing current account deficit and worsening fiscal position. Foreign ownership of Indonesian government bonds is also at nearly 40 percent, suggesting vulnerability to a selloff. Indonesia’s benchmark 10-year bond yield rose to around 8.54 percent Tuesday, up from around 8.0 percent at the beginning of June and around 6.9 percent in March.

Malaysia may have a current account surplus, but as an energy exporter, lower LNG prices could bite, Nomura said.

“Malaysia is also vulnerable to capital outflows as foreigners own 41 percent of Malaysia’s government bond market and FX reserves have been run down by $31 billion from August 2014 to $107 billion,” Nomura noted.

Thailand could face capital outflows amid rising political uncertainty, anemic domestic demand and the possibility its central bank could cut rates again, Nomura said.

Even Societe Generale isn’t all together bullish on Asian equities, advising staying away from the Philippines, Singapore and Malaysia.

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