‘Let’s Get Out And Take A Breather’: A Look Across Asian Markets At Quarter End

Overnight, we got the last trading in major markets of the quarter as Japanese, South Korean, and mainland Chinese equities all rose following Thursday’s mammoth gains on Wall Street.

“Let’s get out of this quarter and take a breather,” PNC’s Rich Guerrini said, adding that “we need some market stability at this point and hopefully we get to some calmer waters.”

Fingers crossed, Rich. Or I guess, “fingers crossed” for everyone who has forgotten what to do when markets are two-way mechanisms for price discovery as opposed to places you go to buy something today that will almost surely be worth more tomorrow thanks to the fact that for nine years you’ve been bidding alongside central banks and their printing presses.


It’s worth running quickly through the quarter for Asian markets (for the quarter review in U.S. and European markets, see here). To start, Japan’s Topix was down a rather unpalatable 5.6%:


Worst quarter for the Nikkei since 2016:


It was the best quarter for China’s mainland small-cap and tech shares since the end of 2015, as the ChiNext posted a 8.5% gain. Contrast that with mainland big-caps which fell nearly 5% for the quarter, the worst quarterly performance in two years:


Best quarter in ten years (and the fifth straight quarterly appreciation against the dollar) for the onshore yuan, which gained 3.8% in Q1:


In South Korea, small-caps outperformed “bigly” on the quarter:


In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng eked out its fifth straight quarterly gain, but as Bloomberg’s Mark Cranfield wrote to close the week, “the gauge is being pushed around by a small bunch of heavyweights, which include Tencent Holdings and Sunny Optical” which could portend choppy waters ahead despite analysts’ penchant for bullishness on the broader Hong Kong equity story.

The MSCI Asia Pacific index ended the quarter down 0.5%, putting the brakes on what has been pretty much a one-way ticket:


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