Investors’ optimism about prospects for global economic growth paled in August, according to the latest Bank of America Merrill Lynch Fund Managers Survey, released Tuesday.
Fifty-three percent of investors said the global economy would strengthen in the coming year, down eight percentage points from July.
China was on investors’ minds, as 52% rated a recession there as the number one “tail risk,” a shift from July when survey panelists said a potential breakdown of the eurozone was the biggest tail risk.
Nearly three-quarters of participants in the August survey thought that China’s real GDP growth would trend below 6% by 2018, and one-third thought it would fall below 5%.
Worries about Greece, meanwhile, receded substantially, with only 2% of panelists considering it as the greatest risk, compared with 26% in July.
Reuters reported Wednesday that Germany’s Bundestag had approved Greece’s third bailout, paving the way for Athens to receive funding that will enable it to make a debt repayment to the European Central Bank on Thursday.
Investors in August also positioned themselves for lower growth in emerging markets and continued weakness in the energy sector.
The survey reported the lowest allocations to emerging markets equities since April 2001, with investors underweight by a net 32%. They were underweight energy by a net 30%, the lowest allocation to that sector since February 2002.
Europe and Japan elicited more favorable responses, with investors rating them as the numbers one and two markets in which they would most like to be overweight.
Their positioning in eurozone equities rose to net 47% from net 40% in July as fears on Greece receded, while their allocations to Japanese stocks was net 40%, up three percentage points month on month.
Cash levels in August averaged 5.2%, down slightly from 5.5% in July, the highest level since 2008.
The survey found a growing consensus among investors globally that the U.S. Federal Reserve would raise rates in the third quarter, as 48% of panelists expected rates to rise in September, up from 40% last month. Thirty-nine percent expected a fourth-quarter rate rise.
Fed Fund futures probability of a hike was also 48% for September, way up from 20% in early July.
A total of 202 panelists with $574 billion of assets under management participated in the Fund Managers Survey in the second week of August.
— Check out Oil at 6-Year Low Amid Global Glut. How Low Can It Go? on ThinkAdvisor.