(Bloomberg) -- Morgan Stanley became the latest China bull to reduce the target for key stock indexes, citing delayed earnings recovery, a weaker currency outlook and geopolitical uncertainties.
The bank lowered its MSCI China Index target to 70 from 80 and trimmed that for the Hang Seng China Enterprises Index to 7,320 from 8,250, implying about a 15% gain each through June 2024 from the latest close. Strategists led by Laura Wang maintained their overweight recommendation, but said they are trimming exposure.
While the market’s outperformance may resume from the second half on policy easing, “we acknowledge the significant hurdles to be overcome first and that the window for investors to reassess the market is narrowing,” the strategists wrote in a Sunday note.
Morgan Stanley’s call comes on the heels of a similar reduction by Goldman Sachs Group Inc., which trimmed its target for MSCI China on earnings and currency concerns last week. Their retreat underscores the rapid decrease in optimism toward Chinese shares compared with earlier this year when almost all of Wall Street’s largest banks were bullish amid the reopening frenzy.
A faltering economy and geopolitical tensions have turned key Chinese gauges into global underperformers, with MSCI China and the HSCEI gauge tumbling into a bear market in recent weeks. While expectations for further property market support and a slew of dip buying delivered a big jump on Friday, few expect the gains to be sustainable.
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Morgan Stanley’s team of strategists turned bullish on China stocks in December, and further lifted its target for the MSCI China Index in January.
The strategists prefer shares listed on the mainland over offshore ones, according to the latest note, as the former can benefit from a re-rating of state-owned enterprises and enjoy better liquidity. Their latest target for the CSI 300 Index, at 4,620 for June 2024, is higher than the earlier 4,500 for December 2023.
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