Asian markets look like good buying

Asian shares reached a 10-year high yesterday as risk appetites sharpened after several upbeat manufacturing surveys confirmed a synchronised upturn in world growth is under way.

Activity was also strong in Europe as bond yields were lifted and the euro rose to trade close to its highest level against the under-pressure United States currency.

Craigs Investment Partners broker Chris Timms said contrary to popular belief, not everything in global markets was expensive.

''We continue to identify pockets of both absolute and relative value within our global coverage.''

It was interesting to note at a time when most investors were encouraged by the lack of value in global markets, the highest quality equities in Craigs' coverage were trading in line, or in some cases at a discount, to their 10-year average price-to-earnings multiples.

Investors also piled into emerging markets yesterday. MSCI's index of Asia-Pacific shares outside of Japan rose another 0.1%, having jumped 1.4% on Tuesday in its best performance since last March, Reuters reported.

The index was getting close to the all-time peak of 591.50 reached in Late 2007. South Korean stocks were up for the fourth session running. Japan's Nikkei remained closed for the holidays.

Wall Street started the new year as it ended the old, scoring another set of record peaks.

The gains in riskier assets came as industry surveys from India, Germany and Canada showed quickening activity.

''The breadth of the recovery is quite extraordinary,'' Mr Timms said.

''The global economy and risky assets are now solidly into a virtuous cycle, whereby growth is propelling risky assets like equities higher. They then support growth.''

There were always opportunities in markets, he said.

Rather than lamenting a lack of value in global markets and focusing on how broad market indices were richly priced, investors would do well to capitalise on the value which was available.

''Trade up in quality and purchase the best-in-class companies which, for now, are out of favour.''

Craigs had a strong positive view on Japanese shares and it remained encouraged by what it was seeing, Mr Timms said.

The Nikkei 225 index was up more than 17% in 2017, its best performance in four years.

While it had not recaptured the highs of the late 1980s, the index was at its highest level since 1992.

Despite the great run, Japanese shares were still trading on a price/earnings (PE) ratio of 14.9 times below the average of the past 15 years.

That made them an attractive value opportunity compared to the other major markets around the world, all of which were trading above long-term averages, he said.

Japan was the world's largest economy and home to many of the world's most innovative industrial, technological and pharmaceutical companies.

Japanese wages were no longer falling, households were no longer saving and the private sector had started to borrow, Mr Timms said.

For those with a positive view on Japanese equities, but a more cautious view on the yen, the preferred exposure remained the WisdomTree Japan Hedged Equity fund.

For investors who would like exposure to Japan without the currency hedge overlay, the iShares MSCI Japan ETF was a low-cost and effective means to access the market, he said.

Craigs still had a cautious view on emerging markets, including those in Asia having a boost yesterday.

None of the structural issues relating to overinvestment, misallocation of capital and high levels of foreign borrowing had been resolved, Mr Timms said.

Investors should use recent strength to further reduce exposure to emerging markets, apart from India, he said.

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