Considering China

China stocks surged Monday following Trump’s announcement that he will be delaying US tariffs on China. Prospects for a trade agreement between China and the US are now looking very good. It is evident that both sides need a positive resolution and are willing to compromise. Last year, China’s stock markets experienced their worst year since 2008, with the Shanghai Composite dropping 24.6% and the Shenzhen composite tumbling over 33%. These markets appeared to bottom at year end and staged a strong recovery as trade tensions began to ease. This recovery is likely to continue if indeed a trade deal is reached. 

The other main cause of last year’s plunge in China’s stock market was increasing signs of a slowdown in China’s economy, paired with uncertainty about the severity of the downshift. It has now become clearer that the slowdown is real but moderate, in contrast to the more dire predictions of some commentators. GDP growth is easing from 6.6% last year to 6.2% this year. In 2020, the economy is projected to expand at a similar and still very robust pace, thanks in part to the anticipated ample policy stimulus and easing of trade tensions.

As Morgan Stanley has noted, China is steadily advancing towards high-income status and a current account deficit that implies the necessity of substantially higher capital inflows. That prospect should encourage further opening up of the economy. Another technical factor that will cause passive investment inflows is MSCI’s plans to increase China A-shares weights in its EM index this year and more in future years. Similarly, FTSE Russell plans to increase the weight of China A-shares in its FTSE Emerging Index.

Changes in the structure of the Chinese economy provide some promising opportunities for investors. The economic slowdown has been mainly in the manufacturing sector, which used to be considered the most important part of the Chinese economy. According to Caixin Purchasing Managers Index data reported by Markit, while manufacturing companies’ output declined modestly in January, service-sector activity continued to expand “solidly,” with the result that the Caixin China Composite PMI for January signaled higher activity for the thirty-fifth month in a row.

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Disclaimer: The preceding was provided by Cumberland Advisors, Home Office: One Sarasota Tower, 2 N. Tamiami Trail, Suite 303, Sarasota, FL 34236; New Jersey Office: 614 Landis Ave, Vineland, NJ ...

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