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Investing in Asia Pacific

Asia by the Numbers

Asia by the Numbers

When consumers and investors think of Asia, they think of populous economies that are both sophisticated and well-established. But what about the surrounding boom of lesser-known economies? Asia isn’t just China and India: the rest of the continent is coming up in the world too, seeking to overtake other economies in a matter of years.

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Asian mega trends, but minimal investor allocations

Asian mega trends

This report provides Aberdeen's insight on why we believe investors should look beyond the short-term distractions and judge Asian fixed income markets on their strong medium-to-long-term prospects.

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China (Aberdeen Greater China Fund, Inc.)*****: The MSCI Zhong Hua Index declined in December and was among the main regional laggards for the year. During the month, concerns over the possibility of new taxes, a lower full-year Gross Domestic Product (GDP) target, a spike in the interbank lending rate as well as a liquidity crunch hurt local equities, though the mainland central bank promptly intervened. The U.S. Federal Reserve’s (Fed) upcoming stimulus cut also weighed on Hong Kong stocks.

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Indonesia (Aberdeen Indonesia Fund, Inc.): Indonesian equities rose slightly in local currency terms as the rupiah continued to decline. Commodities firms earn revenues in U.S. dollars and hence sales in rupiah terms were boosted, while their costs are in local currency.

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Asian Equities (The Asia Tigers Fund, Inc.): Compared with the strong gains of the previous year, Asian equity markets had a rather muted 2013. The MSCI AC Asia Pacific ex Japan Index rose by 3.64% in U.S. dollar terms, outperforming most peers in emerging markets but trailing the double-digit advances in developed markets. Notably, it was concerns over a reduction in U.S. asset purchases that triggered sharp falls in the middle of the year. The Federal Reserve (Fed) tried to reassure investors that it would maintain stimulus until economic recovery was more convincing. But uncertainty prevailed right up to December. Against a backdrop of improving U.S. data, the central bank decided conclusively then that it would reduce its monthly asset purchases starting from January. Investors were also cautiously optimistic when China ushered in a new leadership in March. Beijing promptly vowed to restructure the economy and narrow the wealth gap. A handful of markets were buffeted by domestic struggles. Faced with large deficits, Indonesia and India, along with their currencies, fell sharply during the year although India recovered somewhat. Thai stocks also lost ground, with declines exacerbated by spiralling political tensions.

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Global Income (Aberdeen Global Income Fund, Inc.)*: U.S. government bonds sold-off a little during the first half of October as fears of a U.S. default were fairly muted during the debt ceiling fiasco. Once a resolution was reached, bonds rallied as markets began to focus on the longer-term impact of government shutdown on growth, as well as the likelihood of a further delay to U.S. Federal Reserve (Fed) tapering consequent of a lack of clean economic data and the appointment of Janet Yellen as the new Fed Chairman. The result of the shifting sentiment was that U.S. Treasury yields fell in October with the 10 year yield closing 10 basis points lower at 2.55%.

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India (The India Fund, Inc.): Indian equities rose in December, despite faltering mid-month when the U.S. Federal Reserve (Fed) announced the start of tapering. The market returned to favor as upbeat news on the U.S. economy boosted Indian tech stocks in particular.

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Singapore (Aberdeen Singapore Fund, Inc.)****: Singapore equities fell in December as the U.S. Federal Reserve (Fed) confirmed that it will begin to taper its asset purchases in January 2014. In addition, rising interbank borrowing costs in China renewed fears of a credit crunch and a slowing economy.

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Asia-Pacific Fixed Income (Aberdeen Asia-Pacific Income Fund, Inc.)*: Asian fixed income markets closed mixed in December after the Federal Reserve’s (Fed) decision to start trimming its bond purchases from January ended months of uncertainty. U.S. 10-year Treasury yields rose above 3% for the first time since July 2011 following the Fed decision.

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**** As of 11/01/2013, Fund name changed from The Singapore Fund, Inc.

***** As of 12/02/2013, Fund name changed from The Greater China Fund, Inc.

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