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Wall Street’s chorus of ‘Buy China’ calls is getting louder


HONG KONG: A bullish consensus for Chinese shares is emerging on Wall Street, with new-found optimism around President Xi Jinping’s policy pivots and November’s epic stock rebound prompting some major banks to move away from their long-held bearish views.

Morgan Stanley, notable for its cautious view, lifted its targets for the country’s stock gauges last week, expecting the MSCI China Index to rally 14% by the end of next year.

Bank of America Corp has turned tactically positive on China, where some key equity gauges lost more than a third of their value in the year through October, making them the world’s worst performers.

Jpmorgan Chase & Co had moved even faster, calling the market meltdown late last month a buying opportunit­y, a breakaway from the bank’s “uninvestab­le” label for Chinese Internet firms earlier this year.

Driving the confidence among sell-side analysts are the surprise policy shifts in recent weeks, from easing rigid Covid controls to stronger remedies for real estate woes and efforts to improve ties with the United States.

The moves have rekindled enthusiasm for the market after a US$6 trillion (RM27.3 trillion) rout that culminated in last month’s Communist Party congress, where Xi’s precedent-defying power grab triggered fears of ideology trumping pragmatism.

China markets have reached “the kind of valuation discount that we thought would be characteri­sed by a really bearish scenario.

“So now with incrementa­lly more positive news flow, it can start to do better,” Jonathan Garner, Morgan Stanley’s chief Asia and emerging market equity strategist, said in an interview last week.

The bull market could last for quarters, he added.

The MSCI China Index has jumped almost 24% this month, poised for its best performanc­e since 1999, after losing 17% in October.

The Hang Seng China Enterprise­s Index of Chinese stocks listed in Hong Kong and the Nasdaq Golden Dragon China Index are also in bull market territory, which is defined by a 20% rebound from a recent low.

The latest rally may have legs, if China’s exit from zero-covid continues and its economy further recovers, according to Laura Wang, chief China equity strategist at Morgan Stanley.

“I don’t think it has fully priced in all the benefits from a full reopening, a consumptio­n rebound, macro stabilisat­ion and job opportunit­y rebound yet.”

Garner and his team had correctly predicted deepening routs in emerging and China’s markets earlier this year.

Many of Wall Street’s major banks were bullish on China going into 2022, touting easing regulatory headwinds on tech, growth-friendly economic policies and attractive valuations.

Goldman Sachs Group Inc, for one, had expected double-digit gains in Chinese stocks this year.

However, punishing Covid lockdowns, a housing slump and the risk of potential delisting of dozens of local firms from the United States triggered a relentless sell-off.

With the market staging a remarkable rebound this month, Goldman Sachs is predicting a further rally.

Both the MSCI China Index and the CSI 300 Index will rise by 16% in the next 12 months, the most in Asia, strategist­s including Timothy Moe wrote in a note last week.

Global funds have bought around a net 41 billion yuan (Us$5.8bil or Rm26.4bil) of onshore Chinese shares so far this month via trading links with Hong Kong. — Bloomberg

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