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Buy China stocks, says trillion-dollar fund manager

Sydney

INVESTORS should ignore pricey US stocks and turn to their cheaper Chinese peers instead, where further stimulus will help propel earnings growth, according to T Rowe Price.

Chinese shares trade at a discount and will benefit as authorities crank up efforts to promote the flow of credit in the world's second-largest economy, said Thomas Poullaouec, head of Asia Pacific multi-asset solutions for the US$1.1 trillion asset manager in Hong Kong.

By contrast, US shares are pricey and Federal Reserve stimulus is already well priced in by investors, he added.

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"China is the one where we have a preference because of valuation and because of the expectation that Chinese stimulus can provide some uplift to earnings," he said in a telephone interview.

"China is committed to manage this cycle in a very prudent way with policy measures."

The Shanghai Composite has risen about 9 per cent in the past month, the best performer among global peers, and money is flowing into China's equity market through its exchange link with Hong Kong. The S&P 500 Index has risen just 2 per cent with strategists such as Citigroup Inc dialling back their US equity stance as the trade war and economic growth concerns weigh on sentiment.

The multi-asset group at T Rowe Price - which manages about US$333 billion - favours an underweight stance on American shares, and is neutral on Japan, with emerging markets its only overweight equities position.

That's been tested this year as developed market stocks handed investors more than double the return of their developing-nation peers.

"It's been quite painful at times - especially when things are happening, like in Argentina," he said.

"China can bring some good momentum and support others around it."

For Mr Poullaouec, what's key to China's upside is that upcoming stimulus efforts are currently under-recognised by investors. In the US, by contrast, expectations for policy support from the Fed have run too far.

"The market is pricing many more cuts than what they can deliver," he said. BLOOMBERG