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BofA Merrill Lynch Fund Manager Survey Finds Investors Regaining Risk Appetite

Equity Exposure up With Strong Consensus on December U.S. Rate Rise

Tuesday, November 17, 2015 8:30 am EST

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NEW YORK

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"With consensus very clustered in QE and strong dollar trades, asset price upside appears limited until an ‘event’ curtails the Fed hiking cycle, as in 1994"

Investors have regained some appetite for risk with a strong consensus over a U.S. rate rise next month, according to the BofA Merrill Lynch Fund Manager Survey for November. With growth and inflation expectations notably higher after new U.S. payroll data, they have cut cash holdings and increased exposure to equities, real estate and alternative investments.

  • The percentage of asset allocators overweight equities rose significantly by 17 points to a net 43 percent, while lowering cash overweights to their lowest level since July.
  • Four-fifths of panelists now expect the U.S. Federal Reserve to raise rates during the current quarter.
  • Confidence in the global economy rebounds, with net expectations of it strengthening in the next 12 months up 22 percentage points from October.
  • Concerns over a slowdown in China abate: local fund managers turn neutral on the country’s growth outlook – their most positive reading in more than a year.
  • Eurozone and Japan strengthen as the most favored equity markets globally, reflecting deeper consensus on the U.S. dollar. A net 67 percent now expect the currency to appreciate in the next year.
  • Real estate and alternative investment overweights rise to their second-highest readings in the survey’s history. In contrast, aggressive underweights on commodities and Global Emerging Markets are maintained.

“With consensus very clustered in QE and strong dollar trades, asset price upside appears limited until an ‘event’ curtails the Fed hiking cycle, as in 1994,” said Michael Hartnett, chief investment strategist at BofA Merrill Lynch Global Research.

“While European equities are loved by global investors and the ECB has created some excitement about growth, sector positioning shows local asset managers are lacking conviction and hugging their benchmarks,” said Manish Kabra, head of European quantitative strategy.

Fund Manager Survey
An overall total of 201 panelists with US$576 billion of assets under management participated in the survey from 6 November to 12 November 2015. A total of 164 managers, managing US$465 billion, participated in the global survey. A total of 92 managers, managing US$213 billion, participated in the regional surveys. The survey was conducted by BofA Merrill Lynch Global Research with the help of market research company TNS. Through its international network in more than 50 countries, TNS provides market information services in over 80 countries to national and multi-national organizations. It is ranked as the fourth-largest market information group in the world.

BofA Merrill Lynch Global Research
The BofA Merrill Lynch Global Research franchise covers over 3,350 stocks and 1,250 credits globally and ranks in the top tier in many external surveys. Most recently, the group was named Top Global Research Firm of 2014 by Institutional Investor magazine; No. 1 in the 2015 Institutional Investor All-America survey; No. 1 in the 2015 Institutional Investor Latin America survey; No. 1 in the Institutional Investor 2015 Emerging EMEA Survey; No.1 in the 2015 All-Europe Fixed Income survey; No. 2 in the 2015 Institutional Investor All-Asia survey; and No. 2 in the 2015 All-America Fixed Income survey for the fourth consecutive year. The group was also named No. 2 in the 2014 All-China survey.

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