By Gaurav Dogra and Patturaja Murugaboopathy
(Reuters) – Foreign investors sold Asian equities for a third straight month in April, shrugging off a rebound in regional shares, as sentiment was weighed down by the rising economic fallout from coronavirus-induced lockdowns.
Overseas investors sold a net $6.4 billion worth of regional equities last month, compared with $33.32 billion worth of outflows in March, data from stock exchanges in India, Indonesia, the Philippines, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam showed.
Outflows in March were the highest since at least January 2008.
Khiem Do, head of Greater China investments at Baring Asset Management, said the outflows in April from Asian equities reflected a high level of prudence and uncertainty in the way global asset allocators and investors were positioned.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares gained 8.1% last month, its best month in more than four years, after falling over 12% in March.
The rally in the global and Asian equity markets appears to be the result of modest bargain-hunting by local fundamental investors, plus some short-covering by quantitative-driven trading funds, Baring’s Do said.
The export-reliant economies of South Korea and Thailand in April faced outflows worth $3.97 billion and $1.43 billion, respectively, the highest in the region.
Both economies contracted in the last quarter, with South Korea recording its biggest contraction since 2008 as self-isolation measures hit consumption and global trade slumped.
Indian, Indonesian, Philippine and Vietnamese equities also faced outflows last month.
Bucking the trend, Taiwanese equities received $1.25 billion in inflows.
Jingyi Pan, a Singapore-based market strategist at financial services firm IG, said foreign outflows from Asia lessened in April on hopes that the region’s countries would quickly reopen their economies after shutting them for months due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
India, Malaysia, and Thailand were among countries that have started to partially reopen their economies after lockdowns.
“Our base case is that the global economy is expected to gradually re-open in coming months. By the 4th quarter, we expect that the global economy will show a much stronger recovery,” said Baring’s Do.
“This will be beneficial for Asia as well as the rest of the emerging world.”
Interactive graphic tracking global spread of coronavirus: open https://tmsnrt.rs/3aIRuz7 in an external browser.
(Reporting by Patturaja Murugaboopathy and Gaurav Dogra in Bengaluru; Editing by Aditya Soni)