China the next safe-haven market for investors

Source:Global Times Published: 2020/1/8 22:18:40

A customer shops for gold ornaments at a jewelry shop in Yangon, Myanmar, Aug. 13, 2019. Myanmar's domestic gold price edged higher with around 1.23 million kyats (816 U.S. dollars) per tical on Tuesday, U Aung San Win, vice-chairman of Myanmar Entrepreneurs Association, told Xinhua. (Xinhua/U Aung)

Following Iran's retaliatory attack on two US military bases in Iraq, concerns over a spiraling tit-for-tat war sent jitters through the global financial markets on Wednesday. As risk-aversion tactics drove investors toward safe-haven gold, spot gold soared past the critical $1,600-per-ounce mark.

In times of turbulence, it is routine for international investors to seek out safe-haven assets and markets. But there are not many safe investment options these days. 

Backed by the full faith of the US government, the US treasury has historically been considered one of the safest investments there is. However, the Trump administration's latest actions, including the latest black swan event in Iran, have seriously undermined confidence in dollar-denominated assets. The US government has become the primary source of uncertainties in the global financial market.

So, if not the US, where can investors be confident of protecting the value of their assets while achieving steady returns? China may be a good choice.

While China's recent GDP data suggests a slowdown, a GDP growth rate of 6 percent or so remains relatively high among major global economies. And China still has room for further fiscal and monetary easing in the face of the current downward pressure.

With its stable macroeconomic environment, the Chinese bond market now holds obvious appeal for global investors on the lookout for safe-haven markets. With yields on many government bonds entering negative territory over the past year, safe fixed-income investment options with relatively high yields are in short supply worldwide. Bond yields in China, however, are higher than they are in other countries, and have far fewer risks than those in other emerging markets. At present, China's 10-year sovereign bond yield is heading upward of 3 percent - higher than that of other major government bonds in developed economies, like US treasury yields.

It is also time for countries to consider increasing their yuan reserves amid a wave of global monetary easing. With a relatively steady valuation against a basket of currencies, plus positive interest rates, yuan assets will be among the best options for central banks in the coming year.

As for China's stock market, the A-share market currently presents an unprecedented opportunity for global investors. After years of wavering around the 3,000-point mark, Chinese stock valuations are now at a relatively low level, indicating limited pressure for correction and promising returns in the long term. Furthermore, China has been accelerating the pace of its financial opening-up, scrapping quotas for foreign institutional investors and foreign-ownership limitations for financial institutions. From the perspectives of safe-asset allocation and China's financial openness, the mainland stock market will offer an opportunity global investors shouldn't miss.

The black swan event at the beginning of 2020 has set a disturbing tone for global markets, forcing investors to prioritize safety over returns when it comes to investment options. In this sense, China will not be inferior to any country in terms of stability and investment safety, considering its economic fundamentals, macro controls, trade war negotiations and opening-up progress.

Posted in: GT VOICE

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