JPMorgan upgrades Indonesian equities assessment

JAKARTA • JPMorgan Chase has upgraded its assessment of the Indonesian stock market, reversing an earlier bearish call that prompted Jakarta to stop doing business with the United States bank.

The bank's analysts raised their "tactical" view of Indonesian equities one level to "neutral" in a report dated yesterday, saying volatility in emerging-market bonds following Mr Donald Trump's US election victory in November should now subside. The upgrade came two weeks after Indonesia's government cut business ties with JPMorgan, citing a two-notch equities downgrade by the bank in November.

"Our tactical downgrade two months ago was driven by the risk of Indonesia underperforming the Asia-Pacific ex Japan and EM indices as investors de-risked," analysts said. "Redemption and bond volatility risks have now played out, in our view."

Indonesia welcomed the bank's new assessment. The neutral recommendation is more in line with fundamentals, Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs Darmin Nasution told reporters yesterday. The finance ministry had earlier said it would stop using JPMorgan as a primary dealer and an underwriter for sovereign bonds.

When asked about JPMorgan's upgrade, Indonesian Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati said "it's good", without elaborating.

RISKS HAVE 'PLAYED OUT'

Our tactical downgrade two months ago was driven by the risk of Indonesia underperforming the Asia-Pacific ex Japan and EM indices as investors de-risked... Redemption and bond volatility risks have now played out, in our view.

JPMORGAN ANALYSTS, on the upgrade of its assessment of Indonesia's stock market.

JPMorgan said in an e-mail that its research views are independent and yesterday's report, like previous ones, "is no different".

Foreign investors sold a net US$2.8 billion (S$4 billion) of Indonesian stocks and bonds in the last quarter as emerging-market assets retreated following Mr Trump's victory. That drove the rupiah lower, forcing policymakers to intervene to stabilise the currency.

Last week, Indonesia widened its campaign against negative research by ordering all primary dealers in Indonesian bonds to maintain relations with the government "based on professionalism, integrity and avoiding conflicts of interest".

Firms that fail to comply with the rule, which took effect on Dec 30, risk losing their dealership licences, the government said.

Global banks that are primary dealers in Indonesia's bonds include Standard Chartered, HSBC, Deutsche Bank and Citigroup.

BLOOMBERG, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 17, 2017, with the headline 'JPMorgan upgrades Indonesian equities assessment'. Print Edition | Subscribe