Goldman Says the Years of Emerging-Markets Doldrums Are Over

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  • Growth may pick up for the first time since 2010, Goldman says
  • Yuan depreciation is the biggest risk for developing nations

Where to Find Opportunities in Emerging Markets

After three years of disappointment, emerging markets are about to turn the corner, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. predicts.

As growth picks up and weaker currencies help alleviate economic imbalances, “2016 could be the year EM assets put in a bottom and start to find their feet,” strategists led by Kamakshya Trivedi wrote in a note Thursday. “There is the prospect of improved growth and better returns, even if it is not a rerun of the roaring 2000s.”

Some countries are better positioned than others. While Colombia, South Africa, Turkey and Malaysia still need to tackle their current-account imbalances, Russia, India and Poland are among nations that have improved enough for their assets to rally, according to Goldman Sachs. Emerging-market currencies, which have tumbled this year, are no longer “expensive.”

The New York-based firm is joining a handful of investors who have become more upbeat about developing economies after their currencies fell to record lows and stocks trailed developed-market peers by 51 percentage points over the last three years. Franklin Templeton has said the selloff has opened up buying opportunities not seen for decades.

Growth Pickup

Goldman Sachs predicted that developing countries will grow 4.9 percent next year, from an estimated 4.4 percent in 2015, marking the first acceleration since 2010. While it is still below the long-term trend, the improvement can only help boost investor confidence given the current “widespread bearishness,” the analysts wrote.

“We would part ways with the extreme pessimism that we sometimes encounter about the long-term prospects for EM assets,” they said.

The MSCI Emerging Markets Index rose 0.8 percent at 9:26 a.m. in New York, extending its weekly advance to 2.7 percent. It traded at 12 times estimated earnings, or 30 percent cheaper than the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index. A gauge of 20 developing-nation currencies gained 1 percent in the past five days, paring this year’s slide to 12 percent.

Goldman Sachs said the biggest risk is a “significant depreciation” of the yuan. A stronger dollar and slower growth in China may prompt policy makers to allow the currency to fall with a spillover effect rippling through emerging markets, the report said.

“In our view, the fallout from such a shift is the primary risk,” the analysts said.

Goldman Sachs recommends buying the Mexican peso and Russian ruble against the South African rand Chilean peso as one of the top global trades for 2016. South Africa and Chile are among the countries that are more exposed to a further decline in metal prices as China slows, while stability in oil may help exporters such as Russia and Mexico, it said.