While investment managers are not worried about the end of the government QE2 stimulus, their enthusiasm for the economic recovery, stocks and bonds is waning, Russell Investments found in its quarter Investment Managers Outlook survey.
Fifty-four percent said they believe the end of QE2 will have no impact on the market because it has already been priced in, and another 21% said the economic recovery is already self-sustaining.
However, 60% are bullish on U.S. large-cap growth stocks, down from 70% in March. Fifty-seven are bearish on U.S. corporate bonds, up from 49% in March. Eighty-two percent are bearish on U.S. Treasuries, up from 80% in March.
Investment managers’ outlook for emerging markets rose to 59%, up from 51% in March. They also grew slightly more enthusiastic about non-U.S. developed market equities, with 53% saying they are bullish on this sector, up from 49%.
“Managers may not be citing concern about the end of QE2 specifically, but they certainly appear uneasy about the U.S. economic environment overall, and they are showing caution and moving toward a more defensive investment posture,” said Rachel Carroll, client portfolio manager at Russell Investments. “Recent U.S. economic data, including the unexpected increase in unemployment numbers, challenged previously held growth rate expectations, and this quarter’s growth in optimism for non-U.S. and emerging market equities is an indicator of increased nervousness related to the path of the U.S. economic recovery.”
And those who believe the U.S. market is fairly valued fell 11 percentage points to 61%, down from 72%.
Likewise, more investment managers are gravitating to safe haven stocks, with bullishness for consumer staples rising eight percentage points to 40%. The financial services sector also saw a 10 percentage point increase in bearishness.
“If investors are worried that the economy is slowing, then financials may seem too risky,” Carroll said. “The ongoing uncertainty regarding loan losses and the changing regulatory environment for financial companies is likely weighing on this outlook. Additionally, the April earnings season was not particularly strong for many financial companies, which could have had a negative impact on bullish sentiment.”