Next year could be good for Asian stock markets if Hillary Clinton becomes the next U.S. president. If Donald Trump wins (and doesn't follow through on everything he's said about Asia), an Asian stock market rally will need to wait a few years.
(For more on how a Trump presidency will affect Asia, and what you can do about it, download our free special report by clicking here.)
We recently talked about how the U.S. presidential election cycle affects Asian stock markets. The year before a U.S. election (2015 being the most recent) and the year after (which will be next year) have been good years for Asian stock markets historically.
Why American Politics Influence Asian Stock Markets
It's surprising that there's any sort of relationship between American presidential elections and Asia's stock markets.
This could partly be due to the small sample size. Stock market indices tracking Asian bourses haven't been around long enough to see many four-year presidential cycles. This small number of data points means that years with historically bad returns (like 2008), or historically high returns, have a bigger impact on average returns.
But there's more to it than that. U.S. politics can have a big impact on investor sentiment worldwide. And in smaller markets with relatively low liquidity, it can have an even bigger impact. So investor sentiment related to U.S. elections might affect Asian markets more than it does other markets, such as the U.S.
How Asian Markets Perform Under Democrats and Republicans
Since they were established, Singapore's and Malaysia's stock markets have seen better returns when a Democrat is president than when a Republican is president.
When a Democrat is in the White House, Singapore's Straits Times Index (STI) has averaged 13% annual returns since 1975. This is nearly 4 percentage points more than the average returns when the president is a Republican.
For Malaysia's KLCI, average annual returns have been 16% under a Democrat presidency, nearly 10 percentage points higher than the average returns when the U.S. president is a Republican.
Asian Stock Market Performance When a Democrat Is President
("Post-election" is the first calendar year after the U.S. presidential election (2017 this cycle). "Midterm" is the second year (2018); "pre-election" is year three (last year); "election" is year four, which is this year for the current election cycle.)
For all the Asian markets we studied, when a Democrat wins the election, the post-election year has seen better-than-average returns. The MSCI Asia ex Japan Index has had average post-election year returns of 31%. Singapore's average Democrat post-election year returns have been 19% and Malaysia's 25%. In Hong Kong, average returns have been 17 percentage points higher during a Democrat president's post-election year.
And, except for Hong Kong, the post-election year (which will be 2017) is the best-performing year of the four-year Democratic presidency term. For Hong Kong the best year when a Democrat is president has been the election year (which would be this year for the current cycle).
Republican Presidents Are Better for Some Asian Markets
The MSCI Asia ex Japan Index, which represents Asian markets as a whole, performs best when a Republican is president. Its average return during a Republican presidency is 12%, 3 percentage points higher than when a Democrat is president.
Asian Stock Market Performance When a Republican Is U.S. President
During the third year, or pre-election year, of a Republican in the White House, the MSCI Asia ex Japan Index has had average returns of 35%. That's 27 percentage points higher than the pre-election performance when a Democrat is president.
In fact, all these markets have had exceptional returns during the pre-election year of a Republican presidency (which was last year for the current cycle). Singapore averaged 27% returns and Hong Kong an unbelievable 40%.
Last year was the exception, though. Neither market saw great returns in 2015.
Only Hong Kong had roughly similar overall average returns regardless of who was president.
What This Means for Investors
As mentioned, Asian markets provide a pretty small sample size. For example, the MSCI Asia ex Japan Index has only been through seven U.S. presidential election cycles, which have covered three Republican presidents and four Democratic presidents. One exceptionally good or bad year can have a large impact on the final results. (And this is only the numbers; we're not taking into account policies that might have affected Asia's economies, or other factors.)
Regardless, there is a definite pattern developing for all the Asian markets we looked at: good results the first year after a Democrat wins the election, and above-average returns during the pre-election (third) year of a Republican presidency.
What this means is that next year, 2017, could be a good year for Asian markets if Hillary Clinton wins the election. But if Donald Trump wins, investors will have to wait until 2019 to see strong market performance.
Of course, a Donald Trump win could have other consequences for Asia and its stock markets. For all the details, make sure to read our free report titled "Asia is Trumped!" You can download it here.
Kim Iskyan is the founder of Truewealth Publishing, an independent investment research company based in Singapore. Click here to sign up to receive the Truewealth Asian Investment Daily in your inbox every day, for free.
This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author held no positions in the stocks mentioned.