BENGALURU East Asian stocks are expected to have a better run next year, provided U.S. equities perform well on U.S. President-elect Donald Trump's tax cut plans and investors overcome concerns about a pending rise in protectionism, a Reuters poll found.
Asian stocks have performed unevenly this year, as a series of events from China's currency depreciation in January to the Brexit vote in June to Trump's shock election victory last month led to massive capital outflows from the region.
While the recent rise in major sovereign bond yields bodes well for stocks in general, several equity strategists said the outlook over the next six months was hazy, especially as it remains unclear how far Trump would go to fulfill his campaign promises that hinge on trade protectionism and migration curbs.
Still, the poll taken over the past 10 days showed equity strategists largely stuck to bullish views, their default position.
They expect the Shanghai Composite Index .SSEC, down 10 percent this year, to rise to 3,375 points from Tuesday's close of 3199.65.
From there, it is expected to end 2017 at 3,650 points, up 14 percent from now. But forecasts were in a wide range, from 3,250 to 3,905.
"With the possibility of large fiscal stimulus during the Trump administration, Asian equities could benefit from stronger growth and steeper yield curves, but could also suffer from U.S. dollar strength," Manish Raychaudhuri, an equity strategist at BNP Paribas, wrote in a recent note.
"U.S. trade policies under the Trump administration are currently even less clear than domestic fiscal policies and investors will have to grapple with likely turbulence caused by trade policies in 2017."
Hong Kong's Hang Seng .HSI index is expected to rise some 7 percent from now until end-2017 to 24,290.
South Korea's Kospi Index .KS11 is forecast to gain by a similar amount and climb to 2,135 from Tuesday's close of 1989.86.
Those Kospi forecasts, however, appear optimistic considering Seoul's heavy reliance on Beijing for exports.
In a study detailing the potential fallout on the economy, South Korea's central bank said a knock on its exports could be expected if China shipments to the U.S. weaken as a result of Trump's protectionist trade policies.
Taiwan's Taiex Index .TWII is set to rise about 6 percent from here until next year-end, the poll showed.
Trump spoke by phone last week with President Tsai Ing-wen of Taiwan, the first by any U.S. president or president-elect in nearly four decades, triggering a formal protest from China, which saw it as an infringement of the "one China" principle.
A further deterioration in relations, already under strain after Tsai was elected in January, could dent Taiwan's economy as a major chunk of its exports are sent to China.
In the near-term, if the U.S. Federal Reserve delivers a rate hike next week, policymakers' forecasts on the number of rises to come next year will become a key concern.
Should Trump's planned sweeping tax cuts lead to much higher inflation expectations, the Fed could tighten policy more steeply than thought now and could push the U.S. dollar, already at 14 year highs, even higher. [EUR/POLL]
"That may accelerate capital flows from Asia," said Robert Hsieh, vice president of Shin Kong Investment Trust in Taipei.
A lot, however, depends on China's economy and how it performs in 2017 with concerns about overcapacity in many industries, risks from an overheated housing market and weak global trade flows.
The world's second largest economy has recently shown signs of stabilization in growth after a flurry of debt-fuelled spending. But many are now concerned about the threat China's mountain of debt poses to its future economic performance.
Stocks in the wider region, such as in Australia, and Japan are also expected to perform better next year. [EPOLL/AU] [EPOLL/JP]
Indian stocks, however, won't scale the record highs strategists had predicted just a few months back, mainly because Prime Minister Narendra Modi's currency clampdown is seen knocking economic growth in the next few quarters. [EPOLL/IN]
(For poll data EQUITYPOLL1)
(For other stories from the Reuters global stock markets poll)
(Polling by bureaus in Bengaluru, Seoul, Shanghai and Taipei; Additional reporting by Carol Lee in Taipei, Jing Wang in Shanghai; Editing by Ross Finley and Kim Coghill)