Home / Leaders / BofA fund manager survey suggests markets could bounce

BofA fund manager survey suggests markets could bounce


Chief strategist Michael Hartnett at Bank of America (BofA) comically titled the July global fund manager survey, “I’m so bearish I’m bullish.”

On several of survey measures, money managers are pointing towards further doom and gloom. So much so that the historically bearish sentiment hints at a potential rally to the upside should market conditions only marginally improve.

The majority of the 259 managers, representing US$722 billion ($1 trillion) in combined assets under management, are taking lower risks than normal, with increased positions in defensive asset classes.

  • BofA Fund July Fund Manager Survey

    Cash levels increased to 6.1 per cent, up from 5.6 per cent in June. It might not sound like a lot, but this is the most cumulative cash held by managers since 9/11 hit in 2001.

    Managers are preferring stakes in corporate debts over corporate profits, with equity allocations compared to bonds reaching their lowest level since March 2009.

    Investors will recall this is the month investment bank Lehman Brothers went under, pushing financial markets into panic mode as the fear of contagion grew.

    On a positive note, the last two times relative equity allocations fell this low, shares rallied considerably in the subsequent 12 months.

    “Max bearishness”

    The Bull & Bear indicator, which measures the overall sentiment of market participants, is currently stuck at max bearish. Again, even a small improvement suggests markets could go higher.

    Managers are currently long in defensive sectors like staples, utilities and healthcare. Unsurprisingly, positions in banks, technology and consumer discretionary are being shunned.

    Respondents are particularly concerned over the economy, with 79 per cent expecting a weaker economy in the next 12 months, the lowest on record. The same percentage of managers also expect corporate profits to deteriorate.

    Uncertainty still plagues investors

    The July quarterly reporting in the United States and the August annual numbers from Australian companies will go some way to deciding which way the market moves next.

    The actual numbers should be reasonably strong, but it will be the forward outlook provided by management teams that will capture investor attention.

    Judging by the BofA survey results, managers are expecting profits to reverse materially. But analyst earnings expectations imply marginal growth in 2022.

    It’s little surprise, then, that investor sentiment is at levels usually only reserved for economic crises. Managers are waiting for the downgrades to flow through before diving back in.

    Macroeconomic concerns continue to weigh on respondents.

    Inflation could peak in the coming months, but this will be replaced by anxiety over the impacts of rapid central bank interest rate rises.

    War in Europe is also weighing on the region, with a potential energy crisis coming to the fore as the Northern Hemisphere approaches winter.

    Print Article

    ASIC levy review targets adviser ‘time-lag’ issue

    The review will consider “the consequences of time lags between regulatory action and cost allocation”, the terms of reference states.

    Tahn Sharpe | 10th Aug 2022 | More
    August reporting season has profit margins and managing expectations in focus

    An action-packed month of record dividends, soaring energy prices and rising inflation are all expected to be key trends this earnings season.

    Ishan Dan | 10th Aug 2022 | More
    ‘Volatility provides opportunities for income investors: Franklin Templeton

    Following two years of volatility, triggered by a global pandemic, supply-chain disruptions and the release of massive stimulus that followed, the financial system is in uncharted territory. Inflation is at highs not seen in four decades; bonds have fallen with equities, invalidating the traditional 60/40 portfolio; and, to add a spanner in the works, a…

    Ishan Dan | 5th Aug 2022 | More
    Is The Lottery Corp (ASX: TLC) the best ASX dividend share?
    Lachlan Buur-Jensen | 3rd Jun 2022 | More
    Australian housing set to tank like New Zealand
    Ishan Dan | 13th Jul 2022 | More
    Which stocks made the cut for the “recession-proof” portfolio?
    Ishan Dan | 1st Jul 2022 | More
    Your guide to the ANZ, Suncorp deal and capital raising
    Lachlan Buur-Jensen | 22nd Jul 2022 | More
    What will the corporate dividends look like in 2022-23?
    Ishan Dan | 13th Jul 2022 | More