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16 Jul 2018

EM equities: Should I stay or should I go now? 

Trade tensions, rate rises and dollar appreciation have combined to cloud the outlook for emerging market equities. And, after a long period of strength, the tide appears to have turned as far as flows are concerned. After gathering €16 billion in assets in the past two years, outflows began in May and appear to be accelerating.  

Higher yields in safe haven assets like treasuries can make EM equities appear less worth the risk – to the extent that flows in or out of EM equity ETFs tend to be inversely correlated to the 10-year US treasury yield (albeit not perfectly). The last time rates were near 3% - during the “Taper Tantrum” of 2013 – we saw outflows of around €6bn from Feb 2013 to Feb 2014. Now that the 10-year yield has passed 3%, the outflows are becoming significant. €500m left these markets in May after 15 successive months of inflows. That was followed by €1.6bn in June – and there’s every sign this will continue should yields continue their climb.  

EM equity ETF monthly flows (in €m) vs. 10-yr US treasuries (in %)

Chart 1

Source: Lyxor ETF, Bloomberg monthly data from 1/1/11 to 29/6/18.For illustrative purposes only

Rate rises = reallocations

When US interest rates rise investors tend to shift their portfolios away from EM equities and back into US equities. We saw outflows of around €6bn from EM equities during the “Taper Tantrum” while inflows into US equities were very similar. All things being equal, that trend could continue. We’re not saying it should however; there are other options available to those less inclined to follow the herd. Asia for example presents pockets of opportunity – provided you know where to look.

How EM & US equity flows react when rates rise (in €m)

Chart 2

Source: Lyxor ETF, Bloomberg monthly data from 31/1/12 to 29/6/18. For illustrative purposes only

Navigating Asian markets

That’s not to say Asia has escaped the EM malaise, far from it. Outflows have in fact been accelerating and the markets are now some way below their January performance highs. But for all the external vulnerabilities, Asia’s fundamentals look underpriced, particularly as earnings growth expectations are robust and profitability is improving. The region’s exporters could be at risk from any moderation in global growth but its domestic-focused markets offer some insulation from those issues, hence our preference for India over markets like Taiwan and Korea.  Here’s what we think is next in Asia:


            Views on Asia

India: Domestic money is the key driver of equity markets despite the pressure of rising oil prices, meaning Indian equities are now less correlated to EM peers. The earnings outlook is strengthening, and the worst of the bad bank loans cycle is behind us. Forthcoming general elections (April-May 2019) are a wild card, as are global liquidity risks. Neither should prove too disruptive for now. Watch our vlog on how to invest in India.

View our Lyxor MSCI India ETF

China: We’re positive on onshore equities because they are less correlated with other Asian markets, reasonably valued (we’ve seen earnings upward revisions in recent months) and offer exposure to domestic consumption. We also believe trade tensions and tariffs will be manageable.

ASEAN: The bloc, most notably Indonesia and Thailand, also offers some insulation from US and Europe-related risks. Reasonable valuation, recovering capex and improving bank balance sheets augment the appeal.

View our Lyxor MSCI Indonesia

View our Lyxor Thailand ETFs

North Asia: We’re more cautious on the prospects for North Asian exporters like Korea and Taiwan. They are especially vulnerable to escalating trade tensions or an Italy-led euro crisis.

Japan: The short-term case for Japan isn’t as strong as it was given yen upside risk and cabinet entanglement in political scandals. But the missing element in the long-term reflation case – wage growth acceleration – is (slowly) materializing.

Sectors: The domestic earnings cycle remain strong and favours the consumer and financial sectors.


Why choose Lyxor for Asian equities?*

  • 12 ways to access emerging Asia
  • $3.2bn in AUM
  • The cheapest EM Asia and physical China A Shares ETFs on the market
  • The oldest and largest India ETF on the market
  • 12+ years' experience managing single country and regional EM equity ETFs

*Source: Lyxor International Asset Management. Data as at 05/07/2018. The Lyxor Fortune SG MSCI China A has the lowest TER in the market, tied with three other competing physical China A shares ETFs. Statements refer to European ETF market.

Risk Warning


For professional clients only. All views & opinion are sourced Lyxor Cross Asset, Lyxor ETF & SG Cross Asset Research teams as at 13 July 2018 unless otherwise stated. Past performance is no guide to future returns.   

This document is for the exclusive use of investors acting on their own account and categorized either as “Eligible Counterparties” or “Professional Clients” within the meaning of Markets in Financial Instruments Directive 2004/39/EC. These products comply with the UCITS Directive (2009/65/EC). Société Générale and Lyxor International Asset Management (LIAM) recommend that investors read carefully the “investment risks” section of the product’s documentation (prospectus and KIID). The prospectus and KIID are available free of charge on, and upon request to

The products mentioned are the object of market-making contracts, the purpose of which is to ensure the liquidity of the products on the London Stock Exchange, assuming normal market conditions and normally functioning computer systems. Units of a specific UCITS ETF managed by an asset manager and purchased on the secondary market cannot usually be sold directly back to the asset manager itself. Investors must buy and sell units on a secondary market with the assistance of an intermediary (e.g. a stockbroker) and may incur fees for doing so. In addition, investors may pay more than the current net asset value when buying units and may receive less than the current net asset value when selling them. Updated composition of the product’s investment portfolio is available on In addition, the indicative net asset value is published on the Reuters and Bloomberg pages of the product, and might also be mentioned on the websites of the stock exchanges where the product is listed.

Prior to investing in the product, investors should seek independent financial, tax, accounting and legal advice. It is each investor’s responsibility to ascertain that it is authorised to subscribe, or invest into this product. This document is of a commercial nature and not of a regulatory nature. This material is of a commercial nature and not a regulatory nature. This document does not constitute an offer, or an invitation to make an offer, from Société Générale, Lyxor Asset Management (together with its affiliates, Lyxor AM) or any of their respective subsidiaries to purchase or sell the product referred to herein.

Lyxor International Asset Management (LIAM), société par actions simplifiée having its registered office at Tours Société Générale, 17 cours Valmy, 92800 Puteaux (France), 418 862 215 RCS Nanterre, is authorized and regulated by the Autorité des Marchés Financiers (AMF) under the UCITS Directive (2009/65/EU) and the AIFM Directive (2011/31/EU). LIAM is represented in the UK by Lyxor Asset Management UK LLP, which is authorized and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority in the UK under Registration Number 435658. Société Générale is a French credit institution (bank) authorised by the Autorité de contrôle prudentiel et de résolution (the French Prudential Control Authority).

Research disclaimer

Lyxor International Asset Management (“LIAM”) or its employees may have or maintain business relationships with companies covered in its research reports. As a result, investors should be aware that LIAM and its employees may have a conflict of interest that could affect the objectivity of this report. Investors should consider this report as only a single factor in making their investment decision. Please see appendix at the end of this report for the analyst(s) certification(s), important disclosures and disclaimers. Alternatively, visit our global research disclosure website

Conflicts of interest 

This research contains the views, opinions and recommendations of Lyxor International Asset Management (“LIAM”) Cross Asset and ETF research analysts and/or strategists. To the extent that this research contains trade ideas based on macro views of economic market conditions or relative value, it may differ from the fundamental Cross Asset and ETF Research opinions and recommendations contained in Cross Asset and ETF Research sector or company research reports and from the views and opinions of other departments of LIAM and its affiliates. Lyxor Cross Asset and ETF research analysts and/or strategists routinely consult with LIAM sales and portfolio management personnel regarding market information including, but not limited to, pricing, spread levels and trading activity of ETFs tracking equity, fixed income and commodity indices. Trading desks may trade, or have traded, as principal on the basis of the research analyst(s) views and reports. Lyxor has mandatory research policies and procedures that are reasonably designed to (i) ensure that purported facts in research reports are based on reliable information and (ii) to prevent improper selective or tiered dissemination of research reports. In addition, research analysts receive compensation based, in part, on the quality and accuracy of their analysis, client feedback, competitive factors and LIAM’s total revenues including revenues from management fees and investment advisory fees and distribution fees.

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