Stock Market Insights: China problems

“Did you pull up the anchor?” I was trying to steer the boat west, but something under the water was pulling me east.

In the same way, China’s economic problems are beginning to affect the stocks in the West negatively.

Any long-term investor trying to build a diversified portfolio will likely have some international stock holdings. Usually, those holdings are split between large foreign stocks and emerging markets stocks. The emerging market sector is easily the more aggressive of the two, and of all emerging market countries, China is by far the big fish in that small pond.

China’s stock market makes up roughly 30% of the MSCI Emerging Markets Index. Also, because China is the major trading partner with Taiwan (15% of EM) and South Korea (12% of EM), it influences more than half of the MSCI Emerging Market Index. Any investor with emerging market investment might be surprised that they likely own a sizable position in Chinese stocks.

The market is getting concerned about China’s recent economic struggles. The MSCI China Index is negative 51% since its February 2021 highs. The Hong Kong Stock Exchange, where many large Chinese companies list their shares, has declined almost 10% year-to-date as of Aug. 24. China’s exports and imports have declined year-over-year, and foreign investment in China dropped 80% this year compared to last year. Most significantly, China is showing signs of a full-on real estate crisis as its largest property developers have begun filing for bankruptcy.

I am underweighting emerging markets in my portfolios, with only 2-4% holdings depending on the client’s risk level. This is about half of my neutral setting (benchmark). International stocks are a key piece of a diversified portfolio, especially when the dollar is weaker against other currencies. Though I’m a little pessimistic about broad-based emerging markets, I am looking for opportunities for my clients that will eventually present themselves.

The U.S. and Japanese economies are doing well, but it seems the economies of Europe and China have some difficult days ahead, which could provide some buying opportunities. However, I would avoid investing directly in Chinese stocks for several reasons and favor emerging market funds for diversification in an ever-changing market sector. Of course, your investment strategy needs to align with your goals, time frame and risk level.

We had anchored the boat just off some bluffs that our teens enjoy jumping off (much to their mother’s displeasure). Sometimes, the anchor gets so stuck in the rocks under the water we have to cut it loose, but on this occasion, we were able to pull it up.

China has some challenges, but I don’t think we need to cut the rope. Maybe we should just pull in some of our exposure and plan to return later.

Have a blessed week.

Fervent Wealth Management is a financial management and services entity in Springfield, Mo. Securities and advisory services offered through LPL Financial, a registered investment advisor, Member FINRA/SIPC.

Opinions are for general information only and not intended as specific advice or recommendations. All performance cited is historical and is no guarantee of future results. All indices are unmanaged and can’t be invested in directly.

The economic forecast outlined in this material may not develop as predicted and there can be no guarantee that strategies promoted will be successful.

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