Goldman Advises Clients To Take Profits On "Long China" Trade

After last night's completely unsurprising "beat" of Chinese annualized inflation of 4.4%, Goldman today has come out with a note which, however, is very surprising: Goldman's Robin Brooks and Dominic Wilson have decided to close out their "long China" recommendation, which was one of the firm's Top 2010 Trades presented previously on Zero Hedge. And while the profit on the trade of 11.3% is appealing, the reason for the unwind makes little sense. As everyone had been fully aware (see our note here) in advance, the inflation number would come out at 4.4% (and so it did). To use this as an argument for tightening expectations seems a little disingenuous. Which begs the question: why is Goldman truly no longer bullish on China? And does this mean that the firm no longer buys Jim O'Neill latest decoupling thesis? Lastly, as China has been a key dynamo for world growth, if there is little equity upside to be had in the one last capitalist country, what can we say about the less than capitalist America? This is further compounded by Jan Hatzius' suddenly rosy again outlook on the US economy (coupled with Goldman's ongoing demands for up to $2 trillion in QE, which with every passing day is becoming increasingly more improbable)...

From Goldman Sachs:

Following yesterday’s RRR hikes, overnight China’s CPI inflation came in at 4.4%, above consensus of 4.0%, while industrial production rose by 13.1%, slightly short of consensus expectations of 13.4%. Money growth remained robust at 19.3% yoy. These data reinforce our view that activity remains solid even as inflation is picking up, so that more tightening measures are likely on the way. Jobs data in Australia was stronger than the headline number suggests (5.4% vs consensus of 5.0%), with the rise in the unemployment rate due to a jump in labor force participation. The main even today and tomorrow will the G-20 summit of heads of state.

Yesterday we closed our long China (HSCEI) equities recommendation and long EEM/SPX recommendation with potential gains of roughly 11.3% and 2.3% respectively. With the US cyclical data (ISM and Payrolls) surprising on the upside last week, initial jobless claims continuing to trend lower, and inflation and policy tightening back squarely on the EM policy agenda, the near term outlook for this type of relative trade versus the US is more muddied than it has been for some time. The China (HSCEI) equities top trade too has moved up strongly in the last few months on the back of better cyclical data and easier policy. With successive inflation prints above the policymakers’ comfort zone, another hike in the reserve rate earlier today, and more policy tightening likely in the works, the near-term risk/reward for this position also looks unappealing as we approach the year-end ‘roll-off’. This “risk-management” aside, we continue to like the long-term outlook for EM equities: growth remains robust, and low interest rates in the majors should continue to exert downward pressure on the cost of funding for EM corporates. In the near term the inflation risk in some EM economies is growing and real, but as long as it is dealt with, equities should remain broadly well-supported, but after a strong run since September, it will be important to be more selective going forward.

As for how Goldman's top 9 trades of 2010 have fared so far, below is a summary - of the 9 original trades, 4 have been closed (2 at a loss, 2 at profit), and 5 remain still open.

  1. Stay short S&P 500 Dec10/Dec11 Forward Starting Variance Swap, opened at 28.20, with a target of 21, now at 25.466.
  2. Stay long Russian Equities (RDXUSD), opened at 1645.9 for a target of 2050, now at 1804.00.
  3. Stay long GBP/NZD, opened at 2.29, with a target of 2.60, now at 2.0531.
  4. Close short 2-yr GBP swap rates vs. long 2-yr AUD swap rates on a 1-yr forward basis, opened at -268.5 bp, for a potential loss of 24 bp (inclusive of carry).
  5. Close short 2-yr TRY rates through cross-currency swaps, opened at 8.77%, with a target of 12.0%, for a potential loss of 168 bp (inclusive of carry).
  6. Close long 5yr credit protection in Spain vs. short 5yr credit protection in Ireland at 13 bp, opened at 70 bp, with a target of 20 bp, for a potential profit of 2.9% (inclusive of carry).
  7. Stay long the GS FX Growth Current, opened at 103.5, with a target of 111.8, now at 104.1.
  8. Stay long PLN/JPY, opened at 32.1, with a target of 37.5, now at 28.9471.
  9. Close long Chinese Equities (HSCEI), opened at 12616.01 on 01 April 2010, with a target of 15000, for a potential profit of 11.3%.