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Will a Biden win be good for the Asian stock market?

Iris Tan, CFA  |  04 Nov 2020Text size  Decrease  Increase  |  
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We expect a win by former vice president Joe Biden over President Donald Trump to be taken positively by the Asian stock markets. This is because we think a Biden win likely signals a return to a multilateral approach in US foreign policy.

We think the Trump trade tariffs will be re-examined and most likely lead to removals after some negotiations. The potential removal of the Section 301 tariffs should have a positive indirect impact.

However, there are still significant strategic differences between the US and China, and this is likely to mean continued targeted trade restrictions in certain sectors and a higher potential threat of global sanctions against China.

We think a key difference between Biden and Trump to be the approach to trade. We expect Biden would be willing to negotiate and remove much of the Trump tariffs, starting with US allies. While multilateral trade agreements would not be the immediate priority, we think they will be considered if they help restore US relationships and leadership.

However, we think bans on trade with certain Chinese companies and in certain sectors may continue. This could continue to present a risk for select Chinese names that are dependent on US advanced technology.

Even with bipartisan dislike of Chinese policies, we think there is limited support for the bans on TikTok and WeChat as seen by the federal court injunctions against them. We suspect that Biden may cancel the executive orders issued to ban use of TikTok and WeChat by Americans.

Within our coverage we think Samsonite will see material direct benefit from a reduction in US tariffs. While we think Samsonite could pass on the cost savings eventually, it should still provide a near term boost to gross margins.

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Our coverage universe indicates that Asian stocks are slightly undervalued currently by around 7 per cent. While we don't see any grossly overvalued sectors, there is a significant valuation gap between the real estate and energy sectors and the technology and consumer cyclical sectors.

In this regard, we favour stocks such as CNOOC Ltd, Sun Hung Kai, and CapitaLand Mall Trust. We like stocks with exposure to China consumption such as Trip.com and SJM Holdings. We remain selective on the technology sector—we prefer SK Hynix and Yageo, both of which should benefit from a pickup in 5G infrastructure spending.

Morningstar's Global Best Ideas list is out now. Morningstar Premium subscribers can view the list here.

See also Morningstar Guide to International Investing.

is a senior stock analyst with Morningstar.

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