Investments 

Fund managers pessimistic about global growth

Fund managers pessimistic about global growth

The latest fund manager survey from Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BAML) shows an increase in optimism towards emerging markets but a wariness about the outlook for the global economy.

The survey was conducted by BAML during the first week in July.  

BAML declined to comment on the number of individual fund managers who completed the survey, as some managers completed some questions and not others. 

The survey found that fund managers were pessimistic about the prospects for global growth.

According to the survey, just 25 per cent of investors expect a stronger economy in the next 12 months, compared with 62 per cent at the beginning of the year.

The average cash balance in the funds run by those surveyed by Bank of America is 4.8 per cent, which is above the 10-year average level of cash holdings for the fund managers concerned, at 4.5 per cent.

Of the fund managers who answered the survey, 47 per cent have a greater exposure to emerging market equities than is the average for the market, while 28 per cent of the managers surveyed said they have less capital deployed in the US than is the market weighting in the index.

The gap between the levels of exposure to the US and to emerging markets, is, according to the survey, the widest it has been since 2007.

The dollar has been weak this year, which is traditionally viewed as a positive for emerging markets as those companies and countries typically have to borrow in dollars.

The weakness of the dollar harms the investment case for US equities, as overseas investors have less to gain in currency terms.

The MSCI North America Index has underperformed the MSCI Global Index this year, returning 11.8 per cent, compared with 13.9 per cent for the rest of the world.

The MSCI Emerging Markets index has returned 29 per cent this year, compared with 15 per cent for the MSCI All Country World index in the same time period.

About 23 per cent of respondents to the survey said they viewed the US dollar as undervalued.

Peter Elston, chief investment officer at Seneca, said he thinks the value of the dollar has peaked in this economic cycle, and that US equities will under perform from here.

He currently has no exposure to US equities in his funds.

Peter Hargreaves, founder of Hargreaves Lansdown, said it is his opinion UK investors have too little exposure to US shares.

He has recently put £25m into the Blue Whale Growth fund, a global equity mandate that he anticipated will have around 15 of its 25 to 35 stocks in the US.

Brian Dennehy, who runs advice firm Dennehy Weller in Chiselhurst, described the US market as "extraordinarily expensive." 

david.thorpe@ft.com

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