Amid significantly negative returns in both the equity and fixed income markets at the end of last year, it was thought that 2023 would be the “year of the bond”. As we near the end of 2023, however, the bond market is still yet to live up to those expectations. Even so, our view is that the upswing for bonds has been deferred but not cancelled. Although cash has been king for the last two to three years, we believe bonds are now poised to take the crown.
We are heading into a changing world, where the more recent past can no longer be relied on to guide our path forward. But we are not blindfolded. There are tools we can use to provide a greater degree of certainty. Our Future Quality approach is designed to help us identify franchises that are set to endure.
We present our 2024 outlook for sustainable fixed income, core markets and credit markets.
We expect 2024 to be a year of domestic consolidation and long-term reform measures, where markets are driven more by Japan-specific events than by global factors. After decades of deflation, we see Japan as finally breaking out of this cycle in 2024, as it enters a virtuous cycle of price increases and wage hikes.
For those willing to brave immediate challenges, we believe China will continue to offer long-term opportunities as the country has been working to become technologically self-sufficient and develop high-end technologies on its own in a more challenging regulatory environment.
We expect 2024 to be a year of higher returns and lower volatility for Asian local government bonds as US Treasury yields are seen stabilising. We also see Asian currencies firming against the dollar in 2024 as the Federal Reserve’s rate hike cycle comes to an end.
We expect fundamentals and technical backdrop for Asian credit to remain supportive in 2024. However, valuation is a challenge with current Asian high-grade spreads near historical lows. The myriad cyclical and structural factors driving the major sub-sectors within Asian high-yield credit makes it is difficult to call the overall spread direction in 2024, although the current spread level remains wide and offers room for compression over the medium term.
We believe ASEAN will offer good pockets of growth and quality opportunities, as well as earnings resilience and protection amid some of the prevailing global macro headwinds.
We believe that our “New Singapore” narrative focusing on sectors and companies that represent the future of the city-state will remain relevant in 2024. Energy transition has risen to prominence within the New Singapore narrative in addition to data, technology, healthcare, logistics, tourism and food solutions.
Much like this report in 2023, global conditions will remain unique and defy a confident overall summary; thus, here are ten predictions on some particularly noteworthy factors.