Hedge Funds Turn Bullish as China Weathers Slower Growth, Brexit

  • China an ‘island of stability in maelstrom:’ Counterpoint
  • Springs, Counterpoint eke out gains in June, down this year

Springs China Opportunities Fund and Counterpoint Asian Macro Fund join a growing group of hedge funds turning bullish on Chinese shares, which have remained robust even amid a slowing economy and market shocks from Britain’s vote to leave the European Union.

"Ironically, China began to look like an island of stability in this maelstrom,"
Geoffrey Barker, a former HSBC Holdings Plc economist who manages the Counterpoint fund with City Financial Investment Company (Hong Kong), wrote in his most recent investor letter. The Counterpoint fund, a global macro strategy that managed $78 million as of July 1, rose 0.20 percent in June and was down 4.9 percent in the first half of the year, according to the letter.

China’s stock market has "held up well" since the Brexit vote on June 23, despite concerns over China’s economic expansion, Federal Reserve rate increases and a yuan depreciation, Hong Kong-based Springs Capital wrote in a letter to investors obtained by Bloomberg News. The fund eked out a 0.70 percent gain in June, and is down 12.5 percent so far this year, according to the letter.

Both Springs Capital and Barker declined to comment beyond their letters.

More Optimism

The two hedge funds aren’t alone in getting more optimistic about China’s prospects. About 76 percent of China’s hedge fund managers plan to add stock holdings this month, a jump from 50 percent in June, according to surveys by Shenzhen Rongzhi Investment Consultant Co., which tracks Chinese hedge funds.

Springs Capital said investors have largely priced in risks since a market rout in January that sent the Shanghai Composite Index 22 percent lower, the biggest monthly decline since October 2008. There are opportunities in the mainland even though its economy is slowing, making it an ideal time for stock pickers rather than those who bet against benchmark indexes, according to Springs Capital, whose hedge fund is one of the few managed outside China that focuses on the country’s domestic stock market.

Tumbling markets in the middle of last year have made equities more attractive, especially when compared to real estate or bonds, Springs said. A-shares also have low correlation to other major international markets, which during the turbulent global environment, highlights the value of China stocks in global asset allocation, Springs said.

At Counterpoint, the fund’s investments in zinc and nickel contributed to its performance last month, as prices advanced in June due to a “mild upturn in Chinese data and greater activity in the property sector,” Barker wrote in the note.

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