August 31, 2017 / 3:38 AM / a year ago

Japan fund managers raise stock holdings in August, trim bonds: Reuters poll

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japanese fund managers increased their exposure to stocks and trimmed their bond holdings in August, a Reuters poll showed, amid ebbing expectations for the U.S. Federal Reserve to aggressively tighten monetary policy.

People walk past an electronic board showing Japan's Nikkei average outside a brokerage at a business district in Tokyo, Japan August 9, 2017. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

The survey of five Japan-based fund managers conducted between Aug. 17 and 25 showed respondents on average wanted to allocate 38.3 percent of their model portfolios to stocks in August, up from 37.1 percent in July.

The respondents showed a preference for emerging market equities. They increased Asia excluding Japan stocks to 6.7 percent in August from 4.2 percent in July and also lifted emerging Europe to 5.6 percent from 3.1 percent.

On the back of relatively strong economic growth in their regions, MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan has risen about 5 percent so far this quarter, touching a decade high in July. MSCI’s emerging Eastern European index has gained 9.3 percent this quarter and set a 27-month peak this month.

Dimmer U.S. growth and inflation prospects have curbed expectations for the Federal Reserve to hike interest rates consecutively, meaning cheap money could continue flowing into emerging markets for a while longer.

“It would depend on prices and wages data but there is a good chance the Fed would refrain from raising rates later in 2017, as that could destabilize U.S. stocks already perched at high levels,” said Yuichi Kodama, chief economist at Meiji Yasuda Insurance.

The fund managers reduced their exposure to North American stocks to 28.0 percent in August from 30.5 percent in July. The S&P 500 and the Dow hit record highs this month.

The fund managers reduced Japanese stocks to 43.8 percent in August from 48.8 percent in July. Geopolitical concerns increased this month as tensions between the United States and North Korea mounted.

The respondents cut their overall bond exposure to 57.3 percent in August from 58.7 percent in July. The figure for August was still higher than 56.3 percent, the average from the past 12 months.

They reduced North American debt to 32.7 percent in August from 34.6 percent in July while slightly raising Japanese bonds to 38.9 percent from 38.3 percent.

Reporting by Shinichi Saoshiro; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier

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