Investors Least Bearish on Stocks Since Pre-Fed Hikes, BofA Says

Investors are the least pessimistic on stocks since February of last year, before the Federal Reserve began one of the most aggressive tightening cycles in decades, according to Bank of America Corp.’s latest global survey of fund managers.

In another sign of rising optimism, investor allocation to equities is now the least underweight since April 2022, BofA strategists led by Michael Hartnett wrote in a note. A broad measure of BofA’s fund manager sentiment is based on cash positions, equity allocation and economic growth expectations.

The S&P 500 Index is down 0.6% Tuesday as concerns grow that China’s faltering recovery and debt problems will spread to the global economy. However, the US benchmark equities gauge has rallied nearly 26% from its October trough and sits within 7% of its record high.

BofA’s findings reflect the rally in global stocks this year on expectations interest rates are near a peak and growth will hold up better than expected. Hartnett said investors are increasingly expecting inflation to slow in the next 12 months, driving conviction to levels last seen in November 2008 that rate cuts will follow in the coming year.

While participants remain of the view that global growth will weaken over the next 12 months, expectations “improved significantly in August” and recession concerns are fading. Investors are increasingly expecting no recession at all within the next 18 months, and a “soft landing” in the next 12 months remains the base case, Hartnett said.

FMS Sentiment Least Bearish Since Feb '22