A survey released Thursday finds optimism about global economic growth has reached its highest level since 2004, and risk appetite has started to pick up.
In contrast to March, investors are starting to act on the improving outlook and are unwinding previously-entrenched, bearish positions, according to the Merrill Lynch Survey of Fund Managers, which polled more than 200 fund managers managing a total of $561 billion, from April 2 to April 8. A vital difference is that investor pessimism on bank stocks has started to recede.
The net percentage of investors overweight in cash fell to 28 percent from 41 percent in March. Just 17 percent of respondents are underweight in equities compared with 41 percent in March. The survey indicates asset allocators are turning toward cyclical sectors, like technology.
“Improving sentiment on financials has decisively removed the log jam on sector rotation,” said Gary Baker, co-head of international investment strategy at Banc of America Securities-Merrill Lynch Research. “This is enabling broader optimism about growth to feed into greater risk appetite and prompting a march out of defensives into cyclicals.”
Michael Hartnett, co-head of international investment strategy at Banc of America Securities-Merrill Lynch Research said: “The consensus has shifted from apocalyptically bearish to reluctantly bullish. But it’s important to note that asset allocators are still underweight equities, indicating they have yet to fully embrace the idea of a new bull market.”