Until recently, when you mentioned ”Japan” in the investment context, you could almost hear a collective sigh of disappointment — it was all about recession, deflation and poor investment returns.
However, sentiment does seem to be finally changing, not least because Tokyo stocks have rallied almost 20 percent since the start of the year, outperforming benchmark world and emerging indexes.
The yen has also been on a (rare) declining trend since the start of February, with the selling momentum accelerating since the Bank of Japan set an inflation goal of 1 percent in a surprise move and boosted its asset buying programme by $130 billion on Feb 14.
A closely-watched survey by Bank of America Merrill Lynch showed record optimism on Japan’s growth among fund managers, with a net 91 percent of Japanese fund managers saying they expected the domestic economy to strengthen. That’s up from a net 47 percent two months ago.
Overall, survey partipants worldwide slashed their underweight positions on Japanese equities to a net 4 percent in March from 23 percent last month. This is the smallest underweight position on Japan since August. According to Gary Baker, head of European equity strategy at BofA Merrill: