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China Is This Year’s Downside Outlier For Global Stock Markets

By James PicernoStock MarketsAug 26, 2021 07:32AM ET
www.investing.com/analysis/china-is-this-years-downside-outlier-for-global-stock-markets-200600084
China Is This Year’s Downside Outlier For Global Stock Markets
By James Picerno   |  Aug 26, 2021 07:32AM ET
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Shares in China continue to post sharp year-to-date losses vs. an otherwise upside bias for global stocks, based on a set of exchange-traded funds tracking the world’s major equity regions through yesterday’s close (Aug. 25).

The iShares MSCI China ETF (NASDAQ:MCHI)) is down more than 13% year-to-date. Weighing on sentiment is Beijing’s ongoing regulatory crackdown on the country’s high-flying tech firms. The sharp policy shift raises concerns among investors that growth opportunities will be pinched for the country’s tech sector, and perhaps in other industries in China.

MCHI Daily Chart
MCHI Daily Chart

Some investors see opportunity in beaten-down shares, but there’s still a wide-ranging debate as the market prices in higher uncertainty driven by the vagaries of Beijing’s evolving policy agenda. “If many of these firms are being brought to political and regulatory heel, they shouldn’t trade as growth stocks, in my opinion. The valuation shift should be permanent,” says George Magnus, former chief economist at UBS and author of "Red Flags: Why Xi’s China Is in Jeopardy."

The blowback from the change in risk outlook for China has had minimal impact on other markets in Asia, but holding a basket of stocks targeting the region has still come at a price. Consider, for instance, the iShares MSCI All Country Asia ex Japan ETF (NASDAQ:AAXJ), which is down 2.5% this year. Nearly 40% of the portfolio is allocated to China, which explains the fund’s weakness.

By contrast, iShares MSCI Japan ETF (NYSE:EWJ) is up 1.4% year-to-date. Moving beyond Asia reflects much stronger returns, led by US stocks via SPDR® S&P 500 (NYSE:SPY), which is ahead by 20.9% year-to-date. Shares in Europe are a close second-best performer in 2021: Vanguard FTSE Europe Index Fund ETF Shares (NYSE:VGK) is up 17.3% this year.

On a global basis, stocks continue to post a strong gain for 2021: Vanguard Total World Stock Index Fund ETF Shares (NYSE:VT) is up 15.3% this year.

World Regional Equity Markets YTD Returns
World Regional Equity Markets YTD Returns

Looking at the funds listed above through a momentum lens suggests it’s time to manage expectations down for global stocks generally. The case for a bit more caution is based on two sets of moving averages.

The first measure compares the 10-day average with its 100-day counterpart—a proxy for short-term trending behavior (red line in chart below).

A second set of moving averages (50 and 200 days) represent an intermediate measure of the trend (blue line). Using data through yesterday’s close shows that the recent upside momentum trend continues to weaken and so there’s a case for anticipating a more challenged environment for stocks in the near term.

VT Wealth Indexes Vs % Of Regional Equity Funds Trending Up
Indexes Vs % Of Regional Equity Funds Trending Up
China Is This Year’s Downside Outlier For Global Stock Markets
 

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China Is This Year’s Downside Outlier For Global Stock Markets

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