FUND MANAGER: This is the one thing investors should be watching

Fund manager Luke Hickmore is emphatic when asked what he is keeping an eye on.

“It’s always going to be currencies, right? Currencies, currencies, currencies.”

Hickmore, a senior investment in fixed income at the $US483.3 billion Aberdeen Asset Management, sat down with Business Insider on September 17 while visiting New York.

China had a month earlier devalued the yuan, and the Fed was about to announce its decision over whether to raise rates.

“We went short [on September 16] Aussie dollar versus the US dollar. We’ve had a short in Euro versus dollar for some time – it’s a really [crowded] trade, which I hate, but it still feels like the right place to be.”

FX rates are important to bond buyers who invest globally, as a change in the value of the currency the bond is issued in can easily overwhelm the performance of the bond itself.

The Australia trade is largely driven by China, he said, as he believe the country is “most at risk from Chinese growth problems.”

China is on everyone’s minds right now, and sometimes it’s hard to know what to watch for there.

Most recently, the country’s stock market has been making headlines, after rallying over 150% in just over a year and then crashing twice this summer.

Real rate of Chinese growth

Then there is economic growth. Many investors have grown suspicious of official statistics, and have started looking elsewhere to get a sense of what is going on on the ground.

“We’ve been talking about what the real rate of Chinese growth is for some while,” Hickmore said. “It’s not 7%. We’ve been saying 5% to 5.5% and it looks like it might be kind of around that level, 5% may be the sensible level of growth”

“If I’m worried about anything it’s about how the Chinese authorities come in to try to support that,” he told Business Insider.

“I think they have kind of restricted themselves a little bit maybe about how they do that after the mess they made of trying to support the equity markets over the summer,” he said. “They’re going to have to think very carefully about how to do that.”

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