A foul omen? Rising markets ‘most crowded commerce’ for first time

LONDON (Reuters) – Buyers made a U-turn on rising markets, naming them probably the most crowded commerce, in Financial institution of America Merrill Lynch’s survey for the primary time in its historical past.

A view exhibits a Russian one rouble coin on this image illustration taken October 26, 2018. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

This marked an enormous reversal from final month, when fund managers stated “quick EM” was the third most-crowded commerce – displaying how briskly the temper can shift in an unsure market.

It might show to be a foul omen for rising markets, although, as belongings named “most crowded” normally sink quickly afterwards.

Earlier “most crowded” trades have included Bitcoin, and the U.S. FAANG tech shares, which led the selloff in December.

Rising-market shares .MSCIEF are up 7.eight p.c to date this 12 months, and stream knowledge on Friday confirmed buyers pumped document quantities of cash into rising shares and bonds.

Rising-market belongings had a torrid 2018. Crises in Turkey and Argentina ripped via creating international locations already affected by a powerful greenback and rising U.S. yields pushing up borrowing prices.

However a dovish flip by the Fed at the beginning of the 12 months, indicating the world’s high central financial institution wouldn’t increase rates of interest as rapidly as beforehand anticipated, sparked recent enthusiasm amongst buyers.

Main asset managers and funding banks comparable to JPMorgan, Citi and BlueBay Asset Administration ramped up their publicity to rising markets in current weeks..

The Institute of Worldwide Finance (IIF) predicted a “wall of cash” was set to flood into rising market belongings.

Nevertheless, there are some indications momentum could also be waning. Analyzing flows of its personal purchasers, funding financial institution Citi famous they’d turned cautious on emerging-market belongings over the past week, with each actual cash and leveraged buyers pulling out funds following 4 weeks of inflows.

BAML didn’t specify whether or not the “lengthy EM” crowded commerce referred to bonds, equities or each.

Outdoors rising markets, buyers’ foremost concern remained the opportunity of a worldwide commerce conflict. It topped the record of greatest tail dangers for the ninth straight month, adopted by a slowdown in China, the world’s second-largest financial system, and a company credit score crunch.

Total, BAML’s February survey – carried out between Feb. 1 and seven, with 218 panelists managing $625 billion in whole – confirmed investor sentiment had hardly improved. World fairness allocations fell to their lowest ranges since September, 2016.

“Regardless of the current rally, investor sentiment stays bearish,” stated Michael Hartnett, chief funding strategist at BAML.


Buyers remained nervous concerning the international financial system, with 55 p.c of these surveyed bearish on each the expansion and inflation outlook for the following 12 months.

“Secular stagnation is the consensus view,” BAML strategists wrote.

Following this theme, buyers have been most optimistic on money and, inside equities, most well-liked high-dividend-yielding sectors like prescribed drugs, shopper discretionary, and actual property funding trusts.

As buyers added to their money allocations, the variety of fund managers chubby money hit its highest degree since January, 2009.

The least most well-liked sectors have been these delicate to the cycle, like vitality and industrials – which BAML strategists see nearly as good contrarian investments if “inexperienced shoots” seem within the international financial system.

Worries about company debt have been nonetheless working excessive, with this month’s survey displaying a brand new excessive within the variety of buyers demanding firms cut back leverage.

Some 46 p.c of fund managers discover company steadiness sheets to be over-leveraged, the survey discovered, and 51 p.c of buyers need firms to make use of money stream to enhance their steadiness sheets. That’s the best share since July 2009.

Europe, considered one of buyers’ least-favored areas, confirmed a slight enchancment. A web 5 p.c reported being chubby euro zone shares, from 11 p.c underweight final month.

However buyers’ reported intention to personal European shares within the subsequent 12 months dropped to six-year lows because the revenue outlook for the area continued to lag.

Allocations to UK shares elevated barely from final month however the UK remained buyers’ “consensus underweight”, BAML stated. It has been so since February 2016.

(For a graphic on ‘Evolution of FMS “most-crowded commerce” click on tmsnrt.rs/2TLAP4P)

Reporting by Josephine Mason, Helen Reid, and Karin Strohecker, modifying by Ed Osmond, Larry King

Author: Maxwell C.

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