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14 May, 2020 10:08

Global investments pour into China as Covid-19 turmoil grips financial markets

Global investments pour into China as Covid-19 turmoil grips financial markets

China has seen more capital flow into its stock markets as a result of market dislocations caused by the Covid-19 crisis. According to some strategists, this is part of a longer-term trend.

Allocation to Chinese stocks among more than 800 global funds reached nearly a quarter of their almost $2 trillion in assets under management, according to data from EPFR, a company which provides fund flow and asset allocation information to financial institutions around the world. That’s up from about 20 percent a year ago.

The data covers funds that break down holdings into nine categories of stocks listed in mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, the US, and Singapore.

“We’re finding that a lot of foreign managers globally [are] reshuffling their holdings in this turmoil,” Todd Willits, head of flow tracking firm EPFR, told CNBC. “Allocations to China are something people are looking to increase.”

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Mainland Chinese stocks have been doing relatively well compared with the US stock market, which plunged to three-year lows in March and then recovered significantly in April. The Shanghai composite is down 5.2 percent for the year so far in comparison with the S&P 500 which is down 12.7 percent year-to-date as of Wednesday’s close.

EPFR data showed that dedicated China equity funds have seen outflows in recent weeks since many of them have sold in order to meet redemptions, or customer requests for cash. However, the outflows are temporary, EPFR said, noting funds that invested across several regions are maintaining their allocations to China at the expense of other markets, as a way to meet overall investment return goals.

For investment funds that are focused on global emerging market stocks, the average allocation to China is 34 percent. For funds investing in Asian stocks excluding Japan, the allocation to China is 38 percent, EPFR said.

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The Chinese stock market represents the next new opportunity given local innovations in healthcare and technology, as well as the coronavirus’ relatively greater hit to other major economies, says Justin Leverenz, a team leader and senior portfolio manager for an emerging market equity team at Invesco in New York.

“Every decade we have a significant bull market in something,” he said, pointing to previous rallies in US technology and Japanese stocks. “China is, even at lower levels of growth, going to be the dominant, the super majority driver of growth (over the) next 10 years.”

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