Portfolio investors bullish on PH, says Manulife

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Investor confidence in the Philippines continues to soar, according to insurance giant Manulife.

In a statement, Manulife said favorable macroeconomic indicators, including an improving fiscal situation and significant foreign exchange reserves, have made portfolio investors bullish about the Philippines despite uncertainties in the global economy.

The Philippines last month got its first investment grade from a major international credit-rating agency when Fitch raised its grade for the country from BB+ to BBB-, which is the minimum investment grade.

“The positive news on the Philippines boosts investor confidence. We expect high investor confidence to continue to support demand for alternative investment options that could generate better returns than the current yield on bank deposits,” said Indren Naidoo, president and chief executive officer of Manulife Philippines.

“Remarkable improvement of the country’s debt and fiscal dynamics, significant strengthening of the country’s external liquidity position and the continual structural formation of domestic liquidity are among the key favorable developments in the Philippines that provide positive backdrop to investors amid global adversity,” added Aira Gaspar, the company’s chief investment officer for the Philippines.

Manulife recently introduced several regional funds for portfolio investors wanting to invest in securities issued from Asian markets.

These include the Manulife Asia Pacific Bond Fund, Manulife Asean Growth Fund and Manulife Wealth Premier.

The launching of the funds is consistent with views that Asia is the brightest spot in the world, given the lackluster growth of advanced economies in the West.

In Asia, the Philippines is one of the countries enjoying the favorable sentiment of portfolio investors, Manulife said.

It said that despite the positive outlook on Asia, sentiment on neighboring countries is relatively low compared with that on the Philippines because of the adverse effects of an anemic global environment on the economies.

Manulife said that Hong Kong and Taiwan currently suffer from negative sentiment as portfolio investors believe these countries are significantly affected by weak global demand.

“Investors across markets in Asia have only low levels of confidence that it is a good time to invest, with Hong Kong and Taiwan investors being the most pessimistic,” Manulife said.

“Reflecting the relative pessimism across the region, Asia investors overall indicate they are holding the single biggest portion of their assets in cash,” it added.

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