James Dennin, Kapitall: Asian stocks have hit a 3-week low. What could be causing the dip, and is now a time to buy?
Benchmarks that track Asia's equity markets fell to their lowest point in three weeks today, amid speculation about China's service industry and a rising yen – which weakened Japanese stocks.
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The picture gets a lot more dire when you look at China alone. There stocks are close to a five-month low as the Shanghai Composite Index closed at its lowest point since April 2013.Analysts are attributing this to anxieties over China's slowing growth (which may have fallen as low as 7% for the year) and higher commodity prices, particularly coal. But the falling stock prices are still a concern, especially since China recently lifted its freeze on new Initial Public Offerings (IPOs) for Chinese firms. There are more reasons why the region is of particular interest to Americans, and investors as a whole. 2014 also marks the one year anniversary of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's economic program, informally dubbed "Abenomics." Conclusions about the success of Abenomics vary from bearish to exuberant. Like the US, Japan's economic recovery program involves lots of quantitative easing – or asset purchases by a central bank to keep interest rates low and currencies cheap. Advocates for the program point to a record-breaking run on the Nikkei, lower unemployment, and greater exports as signs that it is working. On the flip-side there are concerns about asset inflation, and that the market could become addicted to easy money. Investing ideas We decided to build a screen for investors who might want to make plays in the Asian recovery. To create the list we looked at valuation and operating margins, to try and find stocks that might be undervalued relative to their profitability.