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13 Feb, 2018 15:00

Investors flee bond market as fears of ‘crash’ grow

Investors flee bond market as fears of ‘crash’ grow

The recent market correction has led to fund managers cutting their bond allocations to the lowest level in 20 years, according to February’s Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BofAML) Fund Managers Survey.

It shows that, along with reducing their fixed-income exposure, 60 percent of professional investors see inflation and troubles overall in the bond market as the biggest threat of a “cross-asset crash.”

Investors have also reduced their bond portfolios to a net 69 percent underweight – the lowest since the survey began two decades ago. The research polled 196 people with $575 billion in assets under management.

Last week’s dramatic stock market sell-off has raised concerns of an impending bear market. A spike in bond yields sent the benchmark 10-year Treasury note to a four-year high.

According to the survey, fears of a breakdown in the bond market did not push investors to stocks. The portfolio level dedicated to equities fell to a net 43 percent overweight – a 12 percentage-point drop, which was the biggest move in two years.

“While this month's survey shows that investors are holding on to more cash and allocating less to equities, neither trait moves the needle enough to give the all clear to buy the dip,” said Michael Hartnett, chief investment strategist at BofAML.

The survey also showed that investors grew more pessimistic overall amid the market turmoil after expressing positive sentiment for months. They indicated that the bull market will likely peak with the S&P 500 at 3,100. Some 70 percent of the respondents believe the global expansion is in the “late cycle,” the highest reading in 10 years.

Meanwhile, 91 percent still think a recession is unlikely and remain long in cyclical sectors including tech, banks, energy, emerging markets, Europe and Japan. Optimism over profits is at its highest level in seven years.

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