Analysts and economists are expecting Japan’s Government Pension Investment Fund (GPIF) to double its allocation to domestic equities and reduce its bond holdings, according to a new Bloomberg poll.
The changes could come at any time in the next month or so; GPIF has been reviewing its portfolio since July and said the process would end sometime in the fall.
Japan’s $1.2 trillion pension fund will double its allocation target for local stocks, according to analysts, who’ve ratcheted up expectations for equity buying while sticking with projections for a reduction in bonds.
The Government Pension Investment Fund will increase its domestic equity allocation to 24 percent of assets from 12 percent, according to the median estimate of 12 fund managers, strategists and economists polled by Bloomberg over the past two weeks. That’s up from 20 percent in a similar survey in May. The Topix index soared 4 percent on Oct. 20 on a Nikkei newspaper report that the fund would set a 25 percent local-share target.
Speculation about the behemoth’s new strategy has held Japan’s markets in sway since a government-picked panel said almost a year ago that GPIF was too reliant on domestic bonds. The fund will slash its local debt allocation to 40 percent from 60 percent, unchanged from May, the median survey prediction shows. Credit Agricole SA and Barclays Plc say anticipation for the shift is so high that equities are vulnerable to a sell-off on the announcement.
“I think investors will sell Japanese stocks on the fact after buying on the rumor,” said Kazuhiko Ogata, chief Japan economist at Credit Agricole. “Over the medium and longer term, the changes will buoy demand for shares and gradually support the market.”
The fund’s foreign holdings will likely undergo change as well, according to the analysts polled by Bloomberg:
The fund’s allocation to overseas equities will be 15 percent, up from the current 12 percent, while the goal for foreign debt will rise to 13.5 percent from 11 percent, according to the median projections in the Bloomberg survey, which was conducted Oct. 22 to Oct. 28.
“Back in May I thought they would allocate more to foreign assets to weaken the yen, but it seems they are more focused on Japanese stocks,” said Genji Tsukatani, a portfolio manager in Tokyo at JPMorgan Asset Management Inc. “They may want to keep the currency from falling too much with a weaker yen being criticized domestically.”
The fund had 17 percent of assets in domestic shares at the end of June, near the maximum 18 percent it can own under current rules. It also had 53 percent in domestic bonds, 16 percent in foreign equities, 11 percent in overseas debt and 2 percent in short-term assets.
GPIF is the world’s largest public pension fund. It manages $1.2 trillion in assets.
Photo by Ville Miettinen