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Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Asia will be ‘resilient’ in a coronavirus second wave. Here’s how to invest, says Credit Suisse

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As parts of the world brace for a second wave of Covid-19 infections, the economic impact on Asia will likely be “limited” as the region will remain resilient, according to a Credit Suisse strategist.

“I think clearly Asia is going to be resilient in the face of a second wave in developed markets in the West,” said Dan Fineman, co-head of equity strategy for Asia Pacific at the Swiss bank.

The U.S. is seeing a surge in coronavirus cases again in recent days, while some countries in Europe are also seeing another sharp spike.

“We need to look at the shift in consumption patterns that has occurred in the West since the Covid pandemic began. Although services spending has cratered in a number of countries as the pandemic hit, we’ve seen a shift of consumption patterns away from services towards goods — and that has enabled Asian exports to improve in recent months,” he said.

“As long as that shift in consumption patterns in the West continues away from services towards goods, actually the damage to Asia from a second wave in the West might be quite limited,” he told CNBC’s “Street Signs Asia” on Tuesday.

Top picks

There are some countries worth investing in due to how they’ve managed the pandemic, Fineman said.

He flagged South Korea as a “top pick.”

“They’ve handled the pandemic quite well, and they don’t really have much of a domestic problem as far as the pandemic is concerned,” Fineman said, adding that the outlook for the country’s export sector has also improved.

If the global economy is going to gradually recover in 2021, 2022, that means … the outperformance of emerging markets is likely.

Tai Hui

chief Asia market strategist at J.P. Morgan Asset Management

Fineman also recommended countries such as Australia and Singapore, which he said had “relatively low risk on the pandemic.”

He added: “We would be looking to rotate into the higher risk, harder hit economies, places like say Hong Kong or Thailand, which have suffered more from the pandemic – if we get good news on vaccine phase three trials.”

Global outlook

But there would be risks for corporate debt if there isn’t another stimulus package in the U.S., warned Tai Hui, chief Asia market strategist at J.P. Morgan Asset Management.

Uncertainty still looms over the White House and it is unclear whether the Republicans will be able to strike a stimulus deal with Democrats before the election. White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow told CNBC’s “Squawk Box” on Monday that talks had slowed down, but noted they were still ongoing.

However, Tai said the high yield market has already priced in some of the default risks. He said current spreads are already reflecting some of those concerns.

If the global economy moves to gradual recovery next year, it will benefit emerging market assets as well as U.S. and European corporate debt in the high-yield sector, said Tai.

“If the global economy is going to gradually recover in 2021, 2022, that means … the outperformance of emerging markets is likely,” he told CNBC’s “Squawk Box Asia” on Tuesday. “You’re likely to get a weaker U.S. dollar, which typically is good news for emerging market assets, whether it’s fixed income or equities.”

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