对冲基金关注中美贸易战风险

英国《金融时报》 劳伦斯•弗莱彻 , 尼可•阿斯加里 伦敦报道
2019.05.15 12:00

押注中国经济复苏的对冲基金今年以来的回报率达到了多数投资者只能在梦中想想的两位数。

然而,一些基金经理开始担心,这场盛宴可能很快就会结束——被美中之间不断加深的贸易争端搅黄。

根据对冲基金研究公司(HFR)的数据,押注中国的基金今年已上涨16.9%,击败了其他市场的竞争对手。

全球最大的对冲基金之一、总部位于伦敦的Marshall Wace,以及总部位于上海的景林资产管理公司(Greenwoods Asset Management),都在从购买中国股票中获得巨大收益的基金公司之列。前者管理着390亿美元资产,后者管理着120亿美元资产。

截至5月初,景林管理的20亿美元的金色中国基金(Golden China)今年飙升了35%,而Telligent资本管理公司的大中华基金(Greater China)上涨逾20%。

这些强劲表现反映了近期中国股市的反弹。这波反弹很快就冲淡了人们对去年中国股市表现弱于其他所有大型市场的记忆。

然而,对冲基金经理们现在正紧张地关注着美中之间的贸易争端,因为这场争端给中国企业盈利前景蒙上了阴影,并开始导致全球股市大幅波动。

为机构投资对冲基金提供咨询的Sussex Partners的联合创始人帕特里克•加利(Patrick Ghali)表示:“感觉年初几乎是(给对冲基金)送了份大礼。”然而,他预计美中贸易争端将在未来几年继续让经济和市场承压。

“这种波动性不会消失,”他表示,“它正给基金经理们带来挑战。”

上周,美国总统唐纳德•特朗普(Donald Trump)把对2000亿美元中国输美商品加征的关税从10%提高至25%,严重动摇了人们对世界最大两个经济体将达成贸易协议的信心。特朗普这一出人意料的举动打击了高歌猛进的中国股市,令华尔街感到不安,也惊扰了欧洲主要市场。

中国基准股指——沪深300指数(CSI 300 index)上周下跌5%,把今年的涨幅收缩至略低于24%。

根据发给投资者的业绩数据,Marshall Wace旗下Tops China基金今年的涨幅回落至28%(而截至4月初的涨幅超过41%)。这家总部位于伦敦的集团拒绝置评。

特朗普政府上周的突发举措不仅让市场措手不及,还引发了对全球经济和企业利润的一系列悲观预测。

巴克莱(Barclays)经济学家预测,未来一年,特朗普加征关税的举动可能使中国国内生产总值(GDP)减少0.5个百分点。

不过,很多对冲基金仍然看好中国股市,其中一些基金预期中国政府进一步向全球开放其金融市场的举措将带来积极影响。这一开放趋势在过去一年中有所加速,尽管白宫试图改变美中贸易关系。

今年3月,中国股市融入全球市场的趋势得到了提振:总部位于纽约、颇具影响力的指数提供商MSCI宣布,到11月,A股在其广受关注的新兴市场基准指数中的权重将提高两倍以上。预计此举将增加被动型基金对中国股市的投资。

“我不认为这是股市上涨的终点,”总部位于香港、管理着36亿美元资产的保银投资管理(Pinpoint Asset Management)的董事总经理Jennifer Wong表示,“5月以前资本流入A股市场的势头一直相当强劲。我们预计资本流动方面不会出现大规模撤离。”

今年截至5月初,保银旗下资产管理规模达12.5亿美元的大中华基金(Pinpoint China fund)上涨10%,而其规模较小且更为积极的加强基金(China Plus fund)上涨近20%。

其他基金仍然相信,美国和中国最终将达成贸易休战协议。总部位于香港、管理12亿美元资产的行健资产管理公司(Zeal Asset Management)的董事总经理潘振邦(Daniel Poon)表示:“我们的基本预测大体上仍然是两国需要达成协议——中国需要稳定的经济来进一步推进改革,而唐纳德•特朗普(Donald Trump)需要一场政治胜利来助力几个月后的连任竞选。”

根据该公司发给投资者的数据,今年起至4月初,行健旗下的中国基金上涨约11%,但到了5月初,涨幅回落至9%左右。

一些基金开始重新考虑中国的前景。两名知情人士表示,总部位于纽约的Key Square资本管理公司最近卖出了其在中国的部分持仓。该公司的创始人斯科特•贝桑(Scott Bessent)曾在乔治•索罗斯(George Soros)的家族理财室担任首席投资官。

其中一名知情人士表示,Key Square基金的经理们已经开始担心中国当局将退出货币刺激措施。该基金今年上涨逾8%。

上周五晚间,特朗普指示美国贸易代表罗伯特•莱特希泽(Robert Lighthizer)开始准备对另外3000亿美元的中国输美商品加征关税,这加剧了投资者的担忧。

对冲基金正力争保持2019年开局良好的势头,希望从去年行业整体亏损4.8%的状况中恢复过来,在这样的背景下,设法应对美中贸易战的影响看来将成为它们面临的最大挑战。

译者/马柯斯

以下为此文英文原文:Chinese boom for hedge funds at risk from US trade dispute

By Laurence Fletcher,Nikou Asgari in London

Hedge funds betting on a China rebound have been delivering the kind of double-digit returns this year that most investors can only dream of.

Some fund managers are, however, starting to worry that the party may soon come to an end — spoiled by the deepening trade dispute between Washington and Beijing.

Funds betting on China have climbed 16.9 per cent this year, trouncing rivals in other markets, according to data group HFR.

London-based Marshall Wace, one of the world’s largest hedge funds with $39bn in assets, and Greenwoods Asset Management, a Shanghai-based outfit with $12bn of assets, are among those to reap big gains from Chinese share purchases.

The $2bn Golden China fund run by Greenwoods had surged 35 per cent in the year to early May, while Telligent Capital Management’s Greater China fund was up more than 20 per cent.

These strong performances reflect the recent rebound in China’s stock market, which quickly buried memories of last year, when it underperformed all other big markets.

Yet hedge fund managers are now nervously watching the trade dispute between the US and China as it casts a shadow over the outlook for Chinese corporate profits and starts to cause significant gyrations in global equity markets.

“It feels like the beginning of the year was almost a gift” for hedge funds, said Patrick Ghali, co-founder of Sussex Partners, which advises institutions on investing in hedge funds. However, he expects the US-China trade dispute to continue to weigh on economies and markets for years.

“This choppiness isn’t going to go away,” he said. “It’s becoming challenging for managers.”

Any confidence that the world’s two biggest economies would strike a trade deal was badly shaken last week, when US president Donald Trump raised tariffs on $200bn of Chinese goods from 10 per cent to 25 per cent. The unexpected move knocked high-flying Chinese stocks, unsettled Wall Street and shook major European markets.

China’s benchmark index, the CSI 300 index of Shanghai and Shenzhen-listed stocks, tumbled 5 per cent last week, cutting its gains for the year to slightly less than 24 per cent.

At Marshall Wace, this year’s gains for its Tops China fund — which stood at more than 41 per cent by early April — have fallen to 28 per cent, according to performance figures sent to investors. The London-based group declined to comment.

As well as wrongfooting markets, last week’s salvo by the Trump administration triggered a series of gloomy forecasts for both the global economy and corporate earnings.

Economists at Barclays forecast the extra tariffs could trim Chinese gross domestic product by half a percentage point over the next year.

However, many hedge funds are still bullish on Chinese stocks, with some of them counting on the positive effects of Beijing further opening its financial markets to the rest of the world. This trend has accelerated over the past year even as the White House sought to rewrite the US trade relationship with China.

The integration of Chinese stocks within global markets was given a fillip in March, when New York-based MSCI, the influential index provider, announced that the weighting of Chinese equities in its widely followed emerging markets benchmark would more than triple by November. The move was expected to increase investment in Chinese stocks by passive funds.

“I don’t think that this will be the end of the equity market rally,” said Jennifer Wong, managing director of Pinpoint Asset Management, which is based in Hong Kong and runs $3.6bn in assets. “Capital flows have been fairly strong into the A-share [shares listed on mainland China] market until May. We don’t expect a big pullback in terms of capital flows.”

Pinpoint’s $1.25bn China fund has gained 10 per cent this year to early May while its smaller China Plus fund, which runs punchier bets, is up nearly 20 per cent.

Other funds remain confident that the US and China will eventually agree a truce on trade. “Our base case is still very much that both countries need a deal — China needs a stable economy for it to push through further reforms while Donald Trump needs a political win to invigorate his re-election campaign which is just a few months away,” said Daniel Poon, managing director of Zeal Asset Management, a $1.2bn Hong Kong-based fund.

Zeal’s China fund was up about 11 per cent this year by early April but gains had slipped to about 9 per cent by early May, according to numbers sent to investors.

Some funds are starting to have second thoughts on the outlook for China. New York-based Key Square Capital Management, founded by Scott Bessent, the former chief investment officer of George Soros’s family office, has recently sold much of its China position, two people familiar with the matter said.

The managers of Key Square’s fund, which is up more than 8 per cent this year, have become concerned that the Chinese authorities are pulling back on monetary stimulus, one of the people said.

Mr Trump ratcheted up the level of concern among investors late on Friday by instructing Robert Lighthizer, the US trade representative, to start preparing tariffs on a further $300bn of Chinese goods.

Trying to navigate the fallout from the US-China trade war looks set to be the biggest challenge for hedge funds as they strive to maintain their positive start to 2019 and bounce back from the 4.8 per cent losses the overall industry suffered last year.

laurence.fletcher@ft.com

nikou.asgari@ft.com

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