Nigeria Strategy Report – After bullish run, portfolio flows to EM look set to moderate.
In today’s cut-out of our core strategy document – The Nigeria Strategy Report, we review developments pertaining to the direction of FPI flows across developed and emerging markets. In addition to delineating the drivers of portfolio flows over H1 17, this section presents our outlook on drivers of FPI flows over the rest of the year.
According to the Institute of International Finance (IIF), net portfolio flows sustained its positive trend for the seventh consecutive month in June 2017, with combined flows of $121 billion over H1 17 being five-fold higher YoY. The strong capital flows emerged despite three rate hikes in the US and political worries in Britain, as investors cheered the strong economic picture across Emerging markets. Against the backdrop of improved fundamentals, which lessened default risk, foreign demand for local denominated fixed income instruments also tracked higher.
Across the various regions, EM Asia witnessed improved portfolio inflow following investors reassessment of India’s growth prospect while portfolio outflows from China reduced against the backdrop of better than expected economic growth, monetary tightening and capital control curbs implemented in 2016. Over in Latin America, capital flows continued to exit the Brazilian economy (January to May 17: -$1.8 billion) against the backdrop of lingering economic recession , lower interest rate and rising political instability. Emerging Market Europe witnessed higher portfolio inflows (+80% QoQ to $54 billion) in Q1 17 largely reflecting favourable economic picture across member countries. Over in the Middle East and North African (MENA) region, Egypt concluded its largest public bond issuance, a multi tranche bond of $4 billion, in January and an additional $3 billion in May 2017.
After two years of reticence, foreign investors’ appetite for Sub-Sahara Africa’s (SSA) assets appear to have improved following the upswing in commodity prices. The rebound is expected to bolster economic recovery, narrow the widening trade deficit and by extension stabilise the frail currencies in the region. Largely reflecting these improved fundamentals, Eurobond issuances across SSA rebounded strongly (+133% YoY to $3.5 billion) over H1 17 with Cote D’Ivoire, Nigeria and Senegal’s offer been oversubscribed by 4x, 8x and 8x times respectively.
Going into the second half of the year, the demand for EM equities is expected to remain strong amidst expectation of improving growth prospects. However, the outlook for capital flows to EM debt is less sanguine. The expected slowdown in FPI flows to EM debt instrument is set against the backdrop of anticipated decline in commodity prices, which should increase the vulnerabilities of resource-rich countries, as well as an increasingly divergent outlook on global monetary policy.
On balance, we expect the impact of hawkish monetary policy outlook in the US as well as the UK, aided by the rising spate of political uncertainties across the various regions, to moderate growth induced rise in portfolio flows to EM markets.