Watch: 2023 Asian Credit Outlook

What have been the key drivers over 2022?

2022 was a challenging year for Asian USD credit.

Returns have been negative as bond yields and credit spreads have risen sharply due to inflation and hawkish central banks.

What are the key themes expected to drive Asia markets in 2023?

Inflation is likely peaking. Macro fundamentals and a slowing global growth outlook potentially point to lower bond yields in 2023.

For China, we will find out whether the recent positive policy changes can support a sustainable recovery. More measures may be needed, and this could help Chinese dollar credits to perform.

Asian credit fundamentals have generally weakened though from a strong base, making credit selection even more important.

What areas of the Asia market does the team see opportunities going into 2023 and why?

Credit valuations are back to previous crisis periods.

We like Asian investment grade credits. This segment now yields about 6% for less than 5 years of duration and offers attractive risk adjusted income.

Stronger investment grade fundamentals supports stable income generation. This segment also offers capital upside potential should bond yields head lower.

Our preferred sectors include financials, higher quality sovereigns, quasi-sovereigns and selected technology names.

Conversely, Asia high yield credit remains vulnerable. A focus on their liquidity and cashflow positions will be key.

This calls for a selective approach, especially for China property.

In high yield, we prefer issuers with more stable cashflows where valuation dislocations have been observed, and selected commodities companies whose liquidity positions are bolstered by high prices.

Finally, we think the worst of Chinese slowdown is likely over. While the growth recovery path can be volatile, we see opportunities in selected over-penalized issuers, such as selected technology, media and telecom names.

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