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OPTIMISM AT HIGHEST LEVEL SINCE NOVEMBER 2003

The latest Merrill Lynch fund managers survey shows an extraordinary jump in optimistic sentiment.   The survey makes up the current psychology of 204 portfolio managers running over $550B in assets.  The report shows a 63% jump in sentiment since July and the highest reading since November of 2003:

A net 75 percent of survey respondents believe the world economy will strengthen in the coming 12 months, the highest reading since November 2003 and up from 63 percent in July. Confidence about corporate health is at its highest since January 2004. A net 70 percent of the panel respondents expect global corporate profits to rise in the coming year, up from 51 percent last month.

August’s survey shows that investors are matching their sentiment with action, by putting cash to work. Average cash balances have fallen to 3.5 percent from 4.7 percent in July, their lowest level since July 2007. Equity allocations have risen sharply month-over-month with a net 34 percent of respondents overweight the asset class, up from a net 7 percent in July. Merrill Lynch’s Risk and Liquidity Indicator, a measure of risk appetite, has risen to 41, the highest in two years.

“Strong optimism in August represents a big turnaround from the apocalyptic bearishness of March. And yet with four out of five investors predicting below trend growth for the year ahead, a nagging lack of conviction about the durability of the recovery remains,” said Michael Hartnett, chief global equities strategist at Bank of America Securities-Merrill Lynch Research. “The equity rally has been narrowly led by China and tech stocks. We have yet to see investors fully embrace cyclical regions such as Japan or Europe, or Western bank stocks.”

Source: PR Newswire

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