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Fund Managers Are Most Bullish Since February: BofA

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Global fund managers surveyed in August were the most bullish they have been since February, but “we do not think positioning is dangerously bullish,” Bank of America Global Research said Tuesday — before the S&P 500 closed at an all-time high.

Net 46% of participants in the new global fund manager survey said “it’s a bull market,” up from 40% in the July survey, while only net 35% saw a “bear market rally,” down from 47% last month.

Fund managers’ cash levels fell three percentage points to 4.6% in August, while their cash allocation dropped six points to net 26% overweight.

The survey was conducted Aug. 7 to Aug. 13 with participation by 203 fund managers with $518 billion in assets under management.

Among the positive findings in the new survey, net 79% of investors said they expected a stronger global economy in the next 12 months, up from 72% in July and the highest reading since December 2009. Thirty-four percent of respondents said they expected the global economy to get “a lot stronger.”

Fifty-seven percent of investors also said they looked forward to higher corporate profits over the coming year, up 21 points from July.

Survey participants’ inflation expectations increased 15 points month over month, with net 52% of anticipating a higher global Consumer Price Index in the next 12 months.

The survey found some negative sentiments among participants. Only 17% forecasted a V-shaped recovery, while 37% said it would have a W shape, up from 30% in July, and 31% saw a U-shaped recovery, down from 44%.

Fifty-seven percent of fund managers insisted that chief executives and chief investment officers improve their companies’ balance sheets, down 22 points from the April peak. Only 30% said they should increase capital expenditures — still double the May figure.

At the same time, 50% of investors said companies were overleveraged, a 10-point drop from July and the biggest one-month decline since September 2018.

Investors in the survey also considered assets overvalued; for example, they deemed an equal-weighted equity/bond/gold portfolio most overvalued since 2008.

Net 31% of fund managers said gold was overvalued, up from 0% in the July survey and the highest level since 2011.

Asked what they considered the biggest tail risks at present, 35% cited a second wave of the coronavirus, down from 52% who said this in July.

Nineteen percent said its was a U.S.-China trade war, 14% the November U.S. presidential election, 13% a credit event and 9% populism, meaning redistribution policies.

According to the survey, 59% of investors said long U.S. tech was the most crowded trade in August, down from 74% in the July poll. Long gold followed, cited by 23% of respondents, and long corporate bonds, mentioned by 8%.

Eurozone equities became the region whose equities were most favored by global investors, increasing 17 points to net 33% overweight in August. Allocation to emerging markets equities increased 11 points to net 26% overweight.

Meanwhile, investors reduced their allocation to U.S. equities by five points to net 16% overweight.

Investors also told BofA they expected a COVID-19 vaccine announcement early in the first quarter of next year, and they believe that the 10-year Treasury yield would be down to 0.5% by year-end.


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