As the recovery in emerging markets starts to abate, bonds are seen as the most resilient asset class amid a dovish Federal Reserve and the mounting prospect of slower global growth.
Most respondents in a Bloomberg survey of 36 global fund managers, strategists and traders expected developing-nation debt to continue this year’s rebound. They were less sure about the rallies in currencies and equities.
Emerging markets finished the first quarter in positive territory, posting the biggest gains in January as the Fed turned increasingly dovish and other major central banks looked to follow suit. Later in the quarter, concern over the weakening outlook for global growth began to weigh on riskier assets, stalling the rally that had sent equities to their best quarter in two years.
“With the Fed’s dovish turn and risks of economic slowdown globally, central banks in emerging markets won’t have to raise rates, which is a good environment for bonds,” said Koji Fukaya, chief executive officer at FPG Securities Co. in Tokyo. “We’re not seeing an all-round bullish risk sentiment, but it’s not as if everyone is turning bearish either. So there will be some cherry-picking.”
Even if emerging-market assets take a turn for the worse, bonds are still seen as the safest bet, according to the survey conducted between March 20-30.
On a country by country basis, Brazil, which last month saw its key rate held at a record low, and Indonesia, where the monetary authority has been buying bonds and currency to stabilise the nation’s markets, were among the top picks. Argentina, with the world’s highest interest rates, and Turkey, where the swap rates briefly surged beyond 1,300 per cent, continued to be the least popular.
By region, the views were mixed, but Asia is seen outperforming in two asset classes.
Compared with developed markets, emerging markets were still expected to outperform as investors search for yield.
Survey respondents saw the global growth outlook as the biggest driver for developing-market assets. In the previous survey, the factor was ranked No. 3.
Finally, here are charts illustrating the outlooks for growth, inflation and monetary policy in 11 emerging markets.