Fund managers turn bearish again in October – BofA survey

MILAN (Reuters) – Investors have turned bearish again in October, boosting cash levels to 5.3% from 4.9% during the previous month and keeping a neutral allocation to stocks, a BofA survey showed.

The survey, dated Oct 17, of 259 fund managers with a combined $664 billion in assets under management found expectations for a hard landing rose to 30% from 21% in September even as the Goldilocks “soft landing” scenario remained their base case at 59%.

A net of 50% expect a weaker global economy over thenext 12 months, underlying an ongoing “disconnect” with the equity markets, it said. Fund managers also want companies to prioritise balance sheet improvement over increasing capex and boosting shareholder returns.

A bounce in optimism about the Chinese economy led to improved profit expectations. A net of 37% now expect global earnings growth to deteriorate, the least pessimistic outlook for profits since February 2022, it said.

A 56% share of respondents expect bond yields to be lower in the next 12 months, the highest on records dating back to 2003 with a 60% majority still convinced that the Federal Reserve has finished its rate hike cycle, BofA said.

The survey also found that consensus is for lower inflation and lower short-term rates, with expectations for both hovering near the highest levels since the global financial crisis.

The biggest two tail risks are “high inflation keeps central banks hawkish”, at 31%, and “geopolitics worsen” at 23%.

Most crowded trades were long Big Tech, at 37%, followed by short China equities, at 21% and long Japan equities, at 11%, the survey showed.

(Reporting by Danilo Masoni; Editing by Amanda Cooper)

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