Asia Stocks Show Resilience on Back of Grim Wall Street Selloff

(Bloomberg) -- This time Asian stocks didn’t get a cold when Wall Street sneezed.

In fact, the Friday selloff in regional equities has been milder at 1.2% compared with the extent of declines in U.S. shares overnight. China’s benchmark ended the session in the green. That’s because fear of second wave of infections has been much stronger in the U.S, and a less extreme valuation rebound in Asian stocks also helps, according to investors.

“I think Asia may outperform the U.S. in the near term,” said Andy Wong, a fund manager at LW Asset Management. The risk of a new wave of infections “seems fairly low in Asia as the virus is still largely contained.”

In Asia Pacific, countries such China, New Zealand and Vietnam have successfully brought the pandemic under control. In contrast, cases are spiking again in a number of U.S. states as they reopen including Texas and California. More than 2 million people in the U.S. have been infected so far.

Asia Stocks Show Resilience on Back of Grim Wall Street Selloff

In terms of valuation, the regional benchmark MSCI Asia Pacific Index now trades at 15 times its estimated earnings for the next 12 months, up from the 11 reached in a March low. The 4-point jump is only half of the expansion seen in the S&P 500’s multiple, which shot up to 22 times before Thursday’s slump.

“We have expected that the U.S. will have a pullback,” said Nelson Yan, head of offshore capital markets investment product at CreditEase Wealth Management (Hong Kong) Ltd, as the S&P 500 index recouping year-to-date gains showed the market didn’t reflect shocks to either economy or corporate earnings. Yan is not too worried about Asia stocks, “as liquidity may flow into the region. Asia also has better economy recovery capability.”

Here is what investors are saying about Asian equities:

Khiem Do, head of greater China investments at Barings in Hong Kong

“As far as the differential performance between Asian and US stocks is concerned, it is our view that Asia is likely to outperform the U.S. in the second half.”

Anthony Chan, chief investment strategist for Asia at Union Bancaire Privee

“The virus containments in a lot of countries are much better than the U.S., so if you look at economic recovery, I would say the pullback in Asia equity, especially in Hong Kong and China, is actually offering a buying opportunity. In Asia we prefer Hong Kong and China in equities. Once we have a sustainable recovery in China, that would be very good for the region as well.”

Tai Hui, chief Asia market strategist at J.P. Morgan Asset Management.

“The fear of a rising rate of Covid-19 infections is the most important driver in our view for this selloff. Some investors could see this as a fresh opportunity to reload on equities, we continue to stress the importance of differentiation and sector selection.”

Nader Naeimi, head of dynamic markets at AMP Capital in Sydney

The selloff “is a steep correction led by profit-taking and investors should look to buy on dips because even with the risk of a second wave the bar for a second lockdown is extremely high.”

Gary Dugan, chief executive officer at the Global CIO Office

“We are more inclined to be buyers than sellers. The policy support for economies is massive.” Dugan said that he is buying European equities and is looking for opportunities in Asia, excluding Japan.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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