【英语财经】人民币贬值对点心债券影响不大 Dim sum bonds shrug off sharp fall in renminbi

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2014-5-14 06:33

小艾摘要: The offshore renminbi bond market has long been a simple beast. When the Chinese currency rose, such credit would perform well. When the renminbi fell, the bonds – known better as “dim sum bonds” ...
Dim sum bonds shrug off sharp fall in renminbi
The offshore renminbi bond market has long been a simple beast. When the Chinese currency rose, such credit would perform well. When the renminbi fell, the bonds – known better as “dim sum bonds” – would falter, and new issuance would evaporate.

However, that pattern appears to have been broken. Over the past two months, the renminbi has suffered a sharp, unexpected turn – falling to its lowest against the dollar in more than a year. Against the euro, the currency of China’s biggest trading partner, the renminbi has dropped to levels not seen since 2011.

Yet the dim sum bond market has barely blinked. In the year to date, companies have raised $10.8bn in offshore renminbi bonds – including both Hong Kong and Taiwan issued debt – more than double the amount during the same period last year, according to Dealogic. April alone saw $2.5bn of new issuance, in spite of the currency weakness.

Some of that activity has been driven by refinancing needs. A lot of two- and three-year debt was raised in 2011 and 2012, giving the market some built-in issuance as those expired. And it has not been plain sailing for all borrowers. Two market segments in particular – Russian banks, which tapped the market aggressively last year, and Chinese property developers – have both suffered due to sector specific concerns.

But the broader market has been solid. Average yields, as tracked by HSBC, rose 26 basis points in the month of March, but have now tracked all the way back down to 4.18 per cent, where they were when the renminbi sell-off began in mid-March. Bankers say that a change in the type of investors looking at the market has helped to steady the ship.

“It’s not a mature market. It’s still growing up,” says Andrew Stephen, head of Asian local currency issuance at Deutsche Bank. But the arrival of more “professional, sophisticated investors”, and the continued issuance activity during renminbi weakness are “signs of being a proper market”.

Increased interest from global funds in search of higher yields has been the biggest source of support for the market, even for those not looking for renminbi exposure.

Some have chosen to invest in the debt while reducing the currency risk by selling renminbi in the forward market. By doing this, investors can buy investment grade credit – sometimes from western companies such as Caterpillar or Unilever – but get an extra yield pickup of about 30-40 basis points, says Massimo Guiati of AZ Fund Management.

“We live in a world where it’s hard to find any yield. This is why dim sum bonds offer an opportunity,” he says. Some investors have also found solace in the fact that the renminbi sell-off has been driven by the central bank rather than the market.

Many forex analysts still believe that the renminbi will end the year stronger, implying that a bounce will come sometime this year.

For many investors, that has made dim sum bonds an attractive option as a way to profit from future appreciation, especially as increasing use of the Chinese currency around the world has given managers more funds to deploy into renminbi assets.

Crystal Zhao, fixed-income analyst at HSBC, recommends that clients look to buy bonds if the renminbi hits Rmb6.3 against the dollar. It is currently at Rmb6.22.

The broader move back into emerging markets has also been supportive. Investors have put money into emerging market bond funds for the past five consecutive weeks, according to data tracker EPFR.

These factors are likely to help the dim sum bond market break the record for annual issuance of $13.1bn set in 2012.

However, the old complaints about the market remain. Though investment banks and brokers have been more active in trying to spur trading, buy-and-hold investors still dominate, leaving thin liquidity for the rest.

Two-thirds of the total market consists of short-term certificates of deposit rather than bonds, which have little attraction for trading. And sustained currency weakness could yet prove a drag on the market if it defies expectations.

“You have more and more people, especially on the private bank side, who have deposits or insurance in renminbi. Assets are increasing, so definitely there are more participants,” says Mr Guiati. “Does that mean we have a more mature market?

I think that is still some time away.”

离岸人民币债券市场一直都很简单。人民币升值时,这些债券就表现良好;人民币贬值时,这些债券(更为人熟知的名字是“点心债券”)的表现就会打折扣,新债券的发行也会逐渐减少。

然而,这一模式似乎已被打破。过去两个月里,人民币汇率走势出现了一波突如其来的大幅逆转——人民币兑美元汇率跌至一年多来的低点,人民币兑欧元(欧元区是中国最大的贸易伙伴)汇率则跌至2011年以来的未见的水平。

点心债券市场却连眼都没眨一下。Dealogic的数据显示,今年迄今,企业通过发行离岸人民币债券(既包括香港也包括台湾发行的离岸人民币债券)融资108亿美元,是去年同期融资额的两倍还多。尽管人民币疲软,但仅4月份一个月的点心债券发行额就达到了25亿美元。

其中一部分发行是由再融资需求驱动的。随着大量2011年和2012年发行的三年期和两年期点心债券陆续到期,市场存在一些内在的发行需求。另外,并不是所有借款人的债券发行活动都一帆风顺。由于各自存在特定的隐忧,有两个板块受到尤为严重的冲击,它们分别是中国的房地产开发商以及去年曾在该市场上大举筹资的俄罗斯银行。

但整个市场一直稳固。汇丰(HSBC)跟踪的数据显示,平均收益率在3月份累计上涨了26个基点,但现已一路回落至4.18%,与3月中旬人民币开始遭抛售时的水平相当。银行家称,关注该市场的投资者的类型发生了改变,这帮助稳住了市场。

德意志银行(Deutsche Bank)亚洲当地货币债券发行业务主管安德鲁?斯蒂芬(Andrew Stephen)说:“这不是个成熟的市场,它仍在发展。”但是,更多“专业老道投资者”的到来以及人民币疲软期间持续不断的债券发行活动,都“说明这个市场是合格的”。

全球基金寻求高收益的兴趣升温,是近来该市场乃至那些不想建立人民币敞口的人得到的最大支撑。

一些人选择投资人民币债务,同时在远期市场上出售人民币来降低汇率风险。AZ基金管理公司(AZ Fund Management)的马西莫?圭亚蒂(Massimo Guiati)说,这样一来,投资者就可买入投资级债券(有时是由卡特彼勒(Caterpillar)或联合利华(Unilever)等西方企业发行的),同时获得约30至40个基点的额外收益率提升(yield pickup)。

他说:“我们生活在一个很难找到任何收益的世界里,这就是为什么说点心债券提供了一个机会。”另外,人民币遭抛售是由中国央行、而非市场推动的,这一事实也让一些投资者找到了安慰。

许多外汇分析师仍然认为,今年全年而言人民币将会走强,也就是说人民币汇率将在今年某个时候出现反弹。

对许多投资者来说,这使得点心债券成为一个有吸引力的选择,让他们能从人民币未来的升值中获利——考虑到全球人民币使用量的不断增长使得基金经理拥有了更多的资金配置到人民币资产,这一点就愈发明显。

汇丰固定收益分析师赵鸣然(Crystal Zhao)建议客户,如果人民币兑美元汇率跌至1美元兑6.3元人民币,就可考虑购买点心债券。目前人民币兑美元汇率为1美元兑6.22元人民币。

资金整体上流回新兴市场,对市场也有支撑作用。数据追踪机构EPFR表示,投资者已连续5周将资金投入新兴市场债券基金。

这些因素很可能会助推点心债券市场打破2012年创下的131亿美元的年发行额纪录。

然而,对该市场的旧有抱怨依然存在。尽管投行和券商比以往更积极地努力刺激交易,“买入并持有”的投资者仍占主导地位,其他投资者只得忍受稀薄的流动性。

整个市场的三分之二是由短期定期存单、而非债券组成,前者几乎不会对交易产生什么吸引力。此外,如果人民币不像人们预期的那样升值,而是持续疲软,仍可对市场造成拖累。

“拥有人民币存款和保险的人越来越多,尤其是在私人银行领域。资产在不断增加,所以肯定会有更多人参与进来。”圭亚蒂说,“这是否意味着市场会更加成熟?我觉得还需要一段时间。”

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