Investors in Asia are showing the extent to which they fear potential trade barriers from a Donald Trump presidency: not very much, so far.
In China--which relies on the U.S. as its number-one export destination-- stocks climbed over 1% on Thursday to a 10-month high after the businessman was elected in the U.S. Mr. Trump has threatened to slap Chinese imports with tariffs as high as 45%.
In South Korea--another large trade partner of the U.S.--stocks rose more than 2%, nearly erasing all losses from the prior session when markets were roiled by Mr. Trump's surprise win over Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.
The prospect that Mr. Trump could inject a fiscal stimulus to jolt the U.S.economy could be a positive for stocks across Asia in the long term if risks to trade are contained, according to economists at Goldman Sachs Group Inc.
Investors also say they are skeptical that Mr. Trump's tough campaign rhetoric will translate into protectionist policies given the difficulty of passing such bills and the practical limitations of trade barriers.
"It would be very hard to sell an Apple iPhone in the U.S. market without Taiwanese components, just given their sheer expertise and assembly line," said Catherine Yeung, a Hong Kong-based investment director at Fidelity International.
Wednesday's selloff was a good buying opportunity, Ms. Yeung added. Shares in Taiwan climbed over 2% on Thursday after plunging to a seven-week low the day before.
But it was Chinese shares that showed the most surprising resilience this week after months of harsh rhetoric from Mr. Trump on the world's second-largest economy. Onereason is that the limited amount of foreign investors in China's local stock market means it is still driven by mom-and-pop investors and less susceptible to external shocks. Another is that some think Mr. Trump's tough talk on China is just that: talk.
Mansfield Mok, who runs a China-focused stock portfolio at EFG Asset Management in Hong Kong, said he believes Mr. Trump's "hard stance" on Chinese trade is just a "bargaining chip."
Politicians "always want to bluff," Mr. Mok said. To blunt any impact, he said, he is buying stocks that are more reliant on Chinese domestic consumers.
Mody Gu, a 32-year old investor from Shanghai, also dismissed Trump's tough stance on trade deals, and said his victory wouldn't divert Chinese equities from their upward path. After lagging nearly every world stock market this year, local Chinese shares have since late September turned a corner with a more-than 5% gain for major indexes.
"Asa businessman, Trump should understand well how capital markets work, " said Mr. Gu, an information-technology specialist. "Whether he will carry out aggressive policies on trade is questionable."
Mr. Trump has been vocally outspoken against the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade deal with 12 Pacific Rim countries led by the U.S. that excludes China. A pullback on that would lessen America's role in the region, a potential positive for Chinese leaders.
"Some investors see Trump's victory as good news for China, because he is expected to focus more on domestic issues and get less involved in Asia," said Amy Lin, a Shanghai-based analyst at Capital Securities.
In the immediate aftermath of Mr. Trump's shocking victory on Wednesday, some investors scrambled to snap up shares in Asia. As markets sold off across the region, "we started picking things up," said Jonathan Garrick, who runs Hong Kong-based hedge fund BRIC Neutron AssetManagement Ltd.
"We were buying some of the Chinese domestic plays, noncyclicals and some of the beaten up blue chips that were down over 4-5%," Mr. Garrick said.
Ronald Chan, chief investment officer of Chartwell Capital Ltd. in Hong Kong, had, like many investors moved some of his portfolio into cash ahead of the uncertain U.S. election results. Before election day, Mr. Chan said he was holding on to around 6-7% more cash compared with six months earlier.
Yet as global markets were roiled by Mr. Trump's surprise victory, Mr. Chan took advantage of sliding stocks to add positions, including buying shipping services company Cosco International Holdings Ltd., which tumbled more than 3% as election results came in, as well as Japanese blue-chips like SoftBank Group Corp. as Japan's Nikkei slid more than 5%.
"We were surprised by the result but then we took the opportunity to top-up some names," Mr. Chan said.
Otherssaid they are gearing up to dive in. Mr. Gu, who just bought an 3-million yuan ($440,000) apartment in Hangzhou, said he would add positions in stocks once he sold his property there.
"For most retail investors in China, the U.S. election is nothing but a bustling scene," he said.
Anjie Zheng, Yifan Xie and Mia Lamar contributed to this article.
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
November 10, 2016 06:31 ET (11:31 GMT)
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