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Stock market propped up by excess cash: top brokerage executive

By Minh Son    June 29, 2020 | 08:25 am PT
Excess cash with individual investors, who were unable to spend it during the social distancing, is driving the local stock market, says the chairman of Saigon Securities Inc.

SSI chairman Nguyen Duy Hung told the firm’s recent annual general meeting that the stock market, an indicator of economic health, "seems far more optimistic than warranted".

"If analysts sit down now to predict how the economy will be, and what is going to drive its growth, they will see many problems. Government stimulus packages, which are the foundation of the economy’s recovery, are having difficulties being disbursed. The stock market, however, is benefiting from surplus cash flow in the economy," he said.

This excess cash, he argued, is basically dead money which people were unable to spend during the country's social distancing (three weeks in April) due to the coronavirus pandemic, while other asset classes are unattractive now.

Hung added: "If people would just board planes and head to resorts, hotels and industrial parks, they will see that the real situation is far worse than what the stock market is depicting."

With stocks becoming the favored asset class, there was an explosion in the number of new accounts by F0 investors - as SSI calls people opening trading accounts for the first time - he noted.

According to the Vietnam Securities Depository, in March, at the height of the Covid-19 crisis, for instance, securities companies opened 32,000 new domestic accounts, the highest monthly number since the market peaked in April 2018.

So financial analysts "cannot look at what is currently happening [on the local bourses] to make long-term forecasts," Hung said.

SSI said for the full year it expects profits to fall 20 percent year-on-year. The firm stated that it has adjusted whole-year profit targets down to reflect its analysis that the stock market has been overoptimistic.

Vietnam’s stock market had been one of the best performing globally, recovering over 31 percent between April and May as the country has gone without community transmission of the novel coronavirus since mid April.

It came third to Japan’s Kospi index, which rose 39.2 percent, and the U.S.’s S&P 500, which rose 36.1 percent, according to data from Bloomberg.

SSI’s pre-tax profits for the first half is expected to reach VND660 billion ($28.53 million), up 30 percent year-on-year.

The brokerage reported profits of VND1.01 trillion ($43.56 million) last year, down 38 percent against 2018 due to the global uncertainty caused by the U.S.-China trade war.

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