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Goldman Sachs lowers Asian stock outlook amid growth concerns

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Goldman Sachs Group Inc is sticking with its bullish view on Chinese stocks in Hong Kong, saying valuations are inexpensive and improving economic data will spur a rebound.

[MANILA] Goldman Sachs Group Inc cut its price targets for the MSCI Asia Pacific Excluding Japan Index by as much as 18 per cent on growth concerns and said the catalyst for a recovery in Chinese stocks could be at least six weeks away.

The US bank lowered its three-month price estimate for the MSCI gauge to 405 from 495, on expectations of "continuing near-term vulnerability" and the risk of a downgrade to earnings estimates, according to a report dated Monday. The one-year price target was reduced to 455 from 520. The MSCI index fell 5 per cent to 387.19 at 4:16 p.m. in Hong Kong.

Global equities have lost more than US$5 trillion in market value since China unexpectedly devalued the yuan, fuelling speculation that the slowdown in the world's second-largest economy may be deeper than previously thought. The rout is shaking confidence that the global economy will be strong enough to withstand higher US interest rates, even as bets on a September liftoff evaporate.

"A shock to growth expectations and faltering confidence in policy are at the centre of a self-reinforcing downward price dynamic in regional equities," Goldman Sachs analysts including Timothy Moe wrote in the report. "Past valuation troughs suggest there could be another 15 per cent downside. The catalyst for a rebound is likely to be stable-to-better macro data, notably from China, which is at least six weeks away." Goldman Sachs lowered its rating on South Korean equities to market weight from overweight, while raising Australian stocks to market weight from underweight.

It maintained the recommendation on Chinese stocks at overweight, saying that a stabilization in China's economic data in the fourth quarter "could prompt a decent snap back."