CNA – Southeast Asian stocks are becoming a haven for international investors fleeing a worsening outlook for global equities who are hoping for sustained strength in the commodity-heavy economies of the region.
Driving the renewed interest is a surge in commodity prices that spells good news, particularly for key producers Indonesia and Malaysia, coupled with the sparse economic links between Southeast Asia and the warring nations of Russia and Ukraine.
Supply disruptions caused by the conflict and subsequent Western sanctions have sent commodities prices soaring, with Brent crude, coal, palm oil and nickel hitting multi-year highs.
“Commodity prices are now likely to be higher for longer,” said Asian Equities Investment Manager at fund house abrdn Jerry Goh.
“We expect Malaysia and Indonesia to continue enjoying trade surpluses, which should bolster government revenues and encourage consumer spending.”
Foreign flows into stocks in Indonesia, Southeast Asia’s biggest economy, rose to USD1.2 billion in February, a news agency data shows, the most since April 2019, following net outflows for much of 2019 and 2020 and only small inflows in 2021.
Indonesia is the world’s top exporter of palm oil, thermal coal and a major producer of nickel, copper and refined tin, while Malaysia is the world’s second largest producer and exporter of palm.
“As economic activity resumes in these two markets, this should also support a recovery in domestic earnings,” Goh added.
Defensive qualities in the ASEAN grouping of nations could exert themselves in the coming months, as the Russia-Ukraine conflict escalates, said a senior portfolio manager for Asian equities at Nikko Asset Management Kenneth Tang.