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Eastern promises

Asset Allocator had an end of year catch-up with Kleinwort Hambros chief investment officer Fahad Kamal and senior market strategist Thomas Gehlen to hear how they are positioning right now.

The duo confirmed they regard a meaningful recession next year as their "base case", and maintain a neutral view on equities. 

But it is within the bond space that they retain an exposure which is noteworthy, largely shunning corporate bonds, despite the high yields, as they are nervous about credit risk.

Gehlen told us they get government bond exposure through ETFs and seek to add extra value through managing duration.

On the equity side, Kamal confided that, despite his view a recession is coming, he is finding Chinese equities an interesting proposition right now.

He says: "We have an overweight to emerging markets, and a big overweight to Asia within that, and to China within that. I think the macro story means Chinese equities were very oversold a few weeks ago, and remain oversold now.

"I also think the Fed has already decelerated in terms of rate rises, and I think that will continue into next year."

There are nine China funds held by the allocators in our database - with the most popular being Fidelity China Special Situations, Allianz China and Allianz All China Equity, all held by two DFMs each.

There has been a large amount of churn in these funds during 2022, as some DFMs bought and some sold, with the net result that overall they are neither particularly more popular nor more unpopular than they were at the start of the year.

In fact Chinese equities is an interesting area on which there not much consensus.

Some DFMs hold sizeable positions in Chinese equity funds as part of their emerging market positions but most hold nothing at all (though of course these DFMs will have some exposure via Asia Pacific or emerging market funds).

And this perhaps highlights the fraught nature of investing in China during 2022.

Going into 2023, the consensus among fund firms highlights that uncertainty - with most being neutral on Asia.

The loosening of the pandemic restrictions in China following the recent political unrest will be a test of consumer demand in that country, though how the wider economy copes with the global economic slowdown and the phenomenon of companies moving their supply chains closer to home, will likely determine how well China funds perform in 2023.

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