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Brazil, Indonesia expected to lead emerging-market comeback in 2019

Equities, currencies and bonds of developing economies have found a floor and will likely outperform their developed-nation counterparts in 2019


emerging market
Illustration by Binay Sinha

Forget the schnapps this season and grab a caipirinha. The new year will usher a rebound in beaten-up emerging markets, with leading the charge, a Bloomberg survey shows.

Equities, and of have found a floor and will likely outperform their developed-nation counterparts in 2019, the survey of 30 investors, traders and strategists by Bloomberg showed. was the top pick for all three asset classes, with another standout. Turkey, with its economy on course for recession, came bottom of the table on two counts.

Key to the anticipated 2019 turnaround is a less aggressive Federal Reserve, which dialled back projections for interest rates and economic growth as it hiked borrowing costs on Wednesday. That offers relief to developing nations that ramped up their dollar borrowing in recent years.

A bottoming out in China’s slowdown and reduced tensions on the trade-war front would also help emerging after their worst performance since the 2015 Chinese hard-landing scare.

“With the Fed moving towards the end of its tightening cycle, funds are likely to return to emerging markets,” said Hironori Sannami, an currency trader at Mizuho Bank in Tokyo.

“But the picture isn’t all that rosy given how the US-China trade friction will remain, keeping investors on their toes. If that trade concern clears up, risk appetite could come back even more.”

For now, emerging stocks are poised for a third straight quarter of declines, though and are both enjoying a recovery from mid-year pain. The MSCI Emerging Index of stocks is down 17 percent so far this year as of 7:33 a.m. in London, while MSCI’s currency measure is 4.2 percent lower. The Bloomberg Barclays index of EM local is down 1.7 percent since the year began through Wednesday.

A majority of respondents in the December 5-December 17 survey expect all three asset classes to rise in 2019, as illustrated in the chart below. And majorities across the board expect developing-nation assets to do better than developed-country ones, as seen below.

look cheap, relative to developed and have underperformed significantly in 2018, so due for a rebound,” said Daniel Morris, senior investment strategist in London at BNP Paribas Asset Management.

One market that’s less cheap now than it was mid-year is Brazil, where assets have rallied on optimism that the right- wing victor in the country’s presidential election, Jair Bolsonaro, will succeed in pursuing reforms and curbing the debt load of Latin America’s biggest economy. More recently, Indonesian markets have been on the rebound, after the country was battered by a tumbling exchange rate that prompted growth- damping rate hikes. A Fed pause, along with a trade deal with the U.S., leaves Mexican assets looking good in the survey, in turn helping Latin America on the regional-preference breakdown, as seen below.

As to what will make or break emerging markets in 2019, survey responses appear below.

Finally, here are charts illustrating the outlooks for inflation, economy and monetary policy for 11 economies includedin the survey.

First Published: Fri, December 21 2018. 00:12 IST