Fully 80% of the 173 fund managers surveyed by BoAML at the start of the month believed that the ECB would engage in additional quantitative easing by the year end (and ~40% within the next month), compared to fewer than 50% who thought the Federal Reserve would take measures in the USA this year.
European equities strategist at the bank, Manish Kabra, said, “Draghi’s statements have been largely successful in removing investor pessimism and have alleviated some pressure on the Eurozone- global asset allocations are still underweight towards Europe, but we have seen the largest uptick in sentiment since early 2009.”
This sentiment has been expressed by increased asset allocation in the Eurozone, whilst fund managers are moving to reduce previously overweight positions in US equities. Kabra states, “Earnings season hasn’t been great in the US- particularly technologies, but we are seeing sentiment to real estate improving on the back of US stabilisation in the sector.”
Less than 10% of managers are now ruling out any form of QE by the ECB due to the promise of policy stimulus, and overall positions are showing small shifts in favour of equities and commodities over bonds. Cash holdings were slightly reduced but remain at historically high levels of 4.7% portfolio value. It is worth noting that despite the improving sentiment, attitudes to Europe are still net 13% negative overall. The ECB’s rhetoric has calmed nerves, but needs to translate into action or the Eurozone equity rally could be short-lived.
Globally, investor outlook has improved in the past month- fears over the Eurozone have diminished (although are still listed as the premier global tail risk) and growth expectation have risen. However, as the January 1st 2013 expiry date for the Bush tax cuts approaches, the fear of the US “fiscal cliff” as number one global risk have increased by 16%.