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Market watch

Hong Kong China Equities - A Positive Outlook, but Headwinds Remain

Issue date: 2021-03-31

Baring Asset Management

While Chinese equities have indeed recovered from the troughs of the pandemic, uncertainties remain—from U.S.-China tensions to the rollout of the vaccine. This article discusses the risks and opportunities shaping the space today.

Chinese equities ended 2020 on a positive note, following another quarter of strong performance in which the market continued to achieve new highs. To-date, Chinese equity markets have fully recovered from the troughs of COVID-19, helped by a resilient domestic economy and the expansion from production to consumption and services in the second half of the year. Positive news around the vaccines also played a role in buoying markets, as did the conclusion of the U.S. presidential election, which helped mitigate near-term geopolitical risks and reinforce investor sentiment.

Going into 2021, policy is expected to remain supportive in an effort to secure the economic recovery in China, although we will likely see a reduction in magnitude and strength compared with last year. The annual Central Economic Work Conference, which concluded in December, has maintained its supportive macro policy direction in 2021, including more effective and targeted fiscal measures, as well as reasonable and prudent monetary policies. The conference also highlighted key structural reforms including the continuation of economic transformation toward higher-quality and sustainable growth, self-sufficiency in the supply chain and scientific and technological innovations. We expect these policy directions to bring strong support to the economy, and subsequently improve market sentiment in areas such as new infrastructure, domestic consumption, new energy, health care and technology localization. Improving market access and promoting fair competition are other notable policy focuses of the government, which should also provide tailwinds to Chinese enterprises in the longer run amid a healthy and improving business environment.

A number of external conditions remain supportive of a global recovery, ranging from a weaker U.S. dollar and an accelerating global demand recovery following COVID vaccinations, to a potentially more predictable trade environment as a result of Biden’s presidency. These conditions, alongside the robust economic revival in China, should allow the earnings growth outlook for Chinese companies to remain positive in 2021, especially for those that are well-positioned to benefit from secular structural growth trends and policy support. 

That said, there are also a number of uncertainties and potential headwinds that could increase market volatility in the near-term, particularly the progression of COVID cases and ongoing China-U.S. tensions. While the vaccine likely signifies light at the end of the tunnel, the timeline for its rollout in different countries, as well as the efficacy of herd immunity after inoculations, are crucial and could influence the pace of global economic recoveries in 2021. China-U.S. frictions, on the other hand, will likely continue and create a challenging environment for China in the near term. Recent conflicts between the two countries have diverted from trade to technology and intellectual property, resulting in short-term market fluctuations—but all eyes are on the Biden administration’s next steps, as they could ultimately determine the magnitude of real economic impact on China.

Important Information

The document is for informational purposes only and is not an offer or solicitation for the purchase or sale of any financial instrument or service.  The material herein was prepared without any consideration of the investment objectives, financial situation or particular needs of anyone who may receive it. This document is not, and must not be treated as, investment advice, investment recommendations, or investment research.

In making an investment decision, prospective investors must rely on their own examination of the merits and risks involved and before making any investment decision, it is recommended that prospective investors seek independent investment, legal, tax, accounting or other professional advice as appropriate. 

Unless otherwise mentioned, the views contained in this document are those of Barings. These views are made in good faith in relation to the facts known at the time of preparation and are subject to change without notice.  Parts of this document may be based on information received from sources we believe to be reliable. Although every effort is taken to ensure that the information contained in this document is accurate, Barings makes no representation or warranty, express or implied, regarding the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information. 

Any forecasts in this document are based upon Barings opinion of the market at the date of preparation and are subject to change without notice, dependent upon many factors. Any prediction, projection or forecast is not necessarily indicative of the future or likely performance. Any investment results, portfolio compositions and/or examples set forth in this document are provided for illustrative purposes only and are not indicative of any future investment results, future portfolio composition or investments.  The composition, size of, and risks associated with an investment may differ substantially from any examples set forth in this document.  No representation is made that an investment will be profitable or will not incur losses. Where appropriate, changes in the currency exchange rates may affect the value of investments. 

Investment involves risks. Past performance is not a guide to future performance. Investors should not only base on this document alone to make investment decision. 

This document is issued by Baring Asset Management (Asia) Limited. It has not been reviewed by the Securities and Futures Commission of Hong Kong.

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