Capital returns from key Southeast Asian markets were quite poor in 2020.

Singapore ended the year at -11% while the Philippines stood at -8.6%. Thailand closed the year at -8.3% while Indonesia closed shop at -5%.

Vietnam was the only major market in Southeast Asia to outperform at 14.2%

Among 69 developed markets, emerging markets and frontier markets — across the world – during a volatile year, stock markets rose in 34 countries and declined in 35 countries, with average returns of 0.7%. Emerging markets saw average returns rise 0.9% year-on-year in 2020, while developed markets and frontier markets saw an increase of 0.7% year-on-year each.

The five best performing stock exchanges were Nigeria (47.2%), South Korea (30.8%), Turkey (29.3%), Denmark (29.0%) and Argentina (22.9%).The worst performers include Mauritius (-24.4%), Bulgaria (-21.2%), Lebanon (-16.3%), Spain (-14.6%) and Croatia (-13.8%).

North Asian markets such as China, Hong Kong, South Korea and Taiwan rose by an average of 15.4%.

Key issues undermining growth in Southeast Asia in 2021 include the continued spread of Covid-19. Failure to curb the pandemic will greatly affect businesses in service-related sectors such as tourism and aviation, and will likely hamper employment and domestic consumption. Another factor to watch is risk from domestic political unrest. Protests may affect the stability of the country and decrease investor confidence, she said.

On the other hand, fiscal policy will be the main driver of the economy this year, boosting household consumption, domestic tourism, agriculture and investment in public infrastructure too. In any case, global growth this year will be mainly supported by China and each country’s recovery will vary according to economic structure, business adaptation and policies from the government and central banks.

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