Written by Cormac Nevin.

Markets rallied last week as data releases such as strong housing statistics in the US allayed fears of an economic hard landing driven by the interest rate increases we have witnessed over the last year. The MSCI All Country World Index of global equities (MSCI ACWI) rallied +1.5% in GBP terms.

A market which the team has noticed getting an increasing degree of exposure from global investors recently has been the Japanese Equity market. In local terms, Japanese Equities are up +8.5% over the course of the second quarter to date, which has strongly outperformed MSCI ACWI over the same period (+1.9%). The GBP return has been reduced by a weakening in the Yen vs Sterling, therefore returning +3.6%, but it remains strongly ahead of other markets. We have been overweight to the Japanese Equity market since 2020 and find it interesting that many of the characteristics of the market which we find appealing are now being given more attention from other investors and the media. These include attractive valuations compared to, for example, the US Equity market, corporate governance reforms being driven by the Tokyo Stock Exchange and other forces including low inflation, accelerating GDP and wage data. While the Yen has proved a headwind for GBP-based investors for the year to date, we think it provides excellent diversification benefits and room for the Japanese currency to rally should the global economy deteriorate as many predict which would lead to a potential narrowing in US/Japanese interest rate differential.

Another interesting element has been the increased investment in the Japanese market from Warren Buffett. While we think investors should never slavishly follow any one investment luminary, we do think it is interesting that the Sage of Omaha now owns more stocks in Japan than in any other country besides the US via his Berkshire Hathaway holding company. Given Mr Buffett’s exceedingly long track record in finding high quality companies trading at discounted valuations, we believe that the Japanese Equity market could potentially be an excellent return driver into the future while other developed markets are more challenged from high valuations or macroeconomic turbulence.

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