• Investors pull $270b in 4th quarter as China lead outflows
  • EM ex-China had inflows in the quarter, Capital Economics said

Investors pulled more money from emerging markets in the three months through December than ever before as investors dumped riskier assets in China amid concern the country’s currency will weaken further, according to Capital Economics Ltd.

Capital outflows from developing nations reached $270 billion last quarter, exceeding withdrawals during the financial crisis of 2008, led by an exodus from China as investors pulled a record $159 billion from the country just in December, Capital Economics’ economist William Jackson said in a report. Excluding outflows from the world’s second-largest economy, emerging markets would have seen inflows in the quarter, he said.

“This appears to reflect a growing skepticism in the markets that the People’s Bank can keep the renminbi steady,” Jackson said in the note, which was published Wednesday. “Given the fresh sell-off in EM financial markets and growing concerns about the level of the renminbi, it seems highly likely that total capital outflows will have increased” in January, he said.

Source: Capital Economics Ltd.
Source: Capital Economics Ltd.

Investor skepticism increased last year as a surprise devaluation of China’s yuan roiled global markets and triggered a $5 trillion rout in the nation’s equity markets, casting doubt on the government’s ability to contain the selloff and support growth. Chinese leaders have since then stepped up efforts to restrict capital outflows and prop up share prices despite pledges to give markets greater sway and allow money to flow freely across the nation’s borders within five years. The yuan traded in the mainland market declined 4.4 percent in 2015, the most since 1994.

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Outflows from emerging markets rose to a record $113 billion in December, Capital Economics said. Over 2015, investors pulled $770 billion from developing nations, compared with $230 billion a year earlier.

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