Global investors have become significantly more confident in the outlook for growth, according to the BofA Merrill Lynch Fund Manager Survey for August. A net 72 percent of respondents now expect the world’s economy to pick up over the next 12 months – the survey’s strongest reading on this measure in nearly four years and a striking rise from July’s net 52 percent.
Investors remain concerned over a “hard landing” in China, though this has calmed since last month. More than half of the panel still identifies this threat as the biggest risk for markets and economies. However, a net 32 percent of investors expect China economic growth to be weaker, improvement from net 65 percent expecting the same last month.
At the same time, sentiment towards the eurozone has improved notably. No fewer than 88 percent of European fund managers now anticipate the region strengthening in the year ahead, twice the level recorded last month. Respondents increasingly view stronger growth as the likeliest solution to the eurozone debt crisis, rather than interventions by the European Central Bank.
The macroeconomic tailwind is reflected in a further overweighting of equities, to a net 56 percent. Equally, the higher inflation and long-term interest rates expectations led to an increase in underweight in bonds (to a net 57 percent). Cash holdings are reduced slightly from July’s year-high level, but remain at an elevated 4.5 percent. This appears to tie in with the widespread expectation among investors (seven out of eight) that recovery will remain below-trend for the time being.“While global growth expectations have risen very rapidly, the good news is that cash levels remain high. Out-of-favor emerging markets offer some enticing opportunities to deploy these balances,” said Michael Hartnett, chief investment strategist at BofA Merrill Lynch Global Research. “The current earnings season shows global recovery reflected in European companies’ performance. With the eurozone the most undervalued major market by far, optimism on the region’s equities should be sustained,” added John Bilton, European investment strategist.