Last week's stock market tremor didn't come out of the blue.

A key but little-noticed report earlier in the week showed that big money managers remained skeptical of the monster rally that had swept the world since mid-August.

The latest Merrill Lynch ( MER) monthly survey of fund managers worldwide found that they were deeply worried about the outlook for profits and economic growth in the year ahead.

According to the survey, a net balance of 55% expect global growth to weaken, compared with just 5% back in early July. And a net balance of 44% expect corporate profits worldwide to weaken, up from 12% three months ago.

The survey also finds that managers are carrying more cash, and are investing on a shorter time horizon. More than a third rate liquidity conditions as "poor."

Of course, it's long been known that bull markets climb a "wall of worry." As long as people are worried, there's probably more upside to come.

The problem is, that would make a more compelling argument if markets were still depressed. Instead, many of them have been in orbit. From Wall Street to Beijing, share prices are a lot higher even though, apparently, the outlook has gotten worse.

Despite the nerves, fund managers have been loading themselves up to the gunwales with emerging-market stocks.

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