Industry Updates

Malaysia on the brink of market accessibility downgrade by FTSE

George Geddes

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FTSE Russell has made changes to its country classification for both equity and fixed income following its annual review.

The country classification framework for fixed income by FTSE was only introduced at the beginning of 2019. It includes scoring a market’s accessibility either 0, 1 or 2, with 2 being the highest level of accessibility for foreign investors.

Israel has been recognised to have maintained an accessibility level of 2 for the last six months and meets the minimum market size and credit rating criteria to be included in the FTSE World Government Bond Index (WGBI). Therefore, Israel local currency government bonds will be added to the index from 1 April 2020 and is expected to comprise 0.29% of the index.

Malaysia is on FTSE’s watch list for a potential downgrade from its current market accessibility score of 2. FTSE will continue to engage with the country’s market participants to get a better understanding of the Bank Negara Malaysia launching recent initiatives to better ints market liquidity and accessibility.

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Within its equity country classification, the notable changes include Romania being changed from a frontier market to a secondary emerging market and Tanzania, currently unclassified, is to become a frontier market. These changes will be implemented by September 2020.

FTSE says it the reclassification for Romania and Tanzania is a result of significant improvements implemented by authorities in both countries.

A significant upgrade in FTSE's last reclassification was Kuwait being upgraded to an emerging market in 2018.

Nikki Stefanelli, head of fixed income index policy at FTSE Russell, said: "We congratulate Israel on their inclusion in the FTSE World Government Bond index.

"There was a strong consensus from index users that the Israeli government bond market meets the thresholds of our highest accessibility level."

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