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

LONDON (Reuters) – Traders made a U-turn on rising markets, naming them essentially 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 a giant reversal from final month, when fund managers mentioned “brief EM” was the third most-crowded commerce – exhibiting how briskly the temper can shift in an unsure market.

It might show to be a foul omen for rising markets, although, as property 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 % to this point this 12 months, and move information on Friday confirmed traders pumped file quantities of cash into rising shares and bonds.

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

However a dovish flip by the Fed initially 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 traders.

Main asset managers and funding banks similar 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 property.

Nonetheless, 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 property during the last week, with each actual cash and leveraged traders 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.

Exterior rising markets, traders’ foremost concern remained the potential of a worldwide commerce warfare. It topped the checklist of largest tail dangers for the ninth straight month, adopted by a slowdown in China, the world’s second-largest economic system, and a company credit score crunch.

Total, BAML’s February survey – performed 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,” mentioned Michael Hartnett, chief funding strategist at BAML.


Traders remained fearful concerning the world economic system, with 55 % of these surveyed bearish on each the expansion and inflation outlook for the subsequent 12 months.

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

Following this theme, traders 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 traders added to their money allocations, the variety of fund managers obese money hit its highest stage since January, 2009.

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

Worries about company debt have been nonetheless working excessive, with this month’s survey exhibiting a brand new excessive within the variety of traders demanding corporations scale back leverage.

Some 46 % of fund managers discover company steadiness sheets to be over-leveraged, the survey discovered, and 51 % of traders need corporations to make use of money move to enhance their steadiness sheets. That’s the best proportion since July 2009.

Europe, certainly one of traders’ least-favored areas, confirmed a slight enchancment. A web 5 % reported being obese euro zone shares, from 11 % underweight final month.

However traders’ 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 traders’ “consensus underweight”, BAML mentioned. 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

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