Eurozone troubles push investors toward equities in US, emerging markets
Global investors are taking a breather from troubles in the eurozone by turning to U.S. and emerging market equities, according to the Bank of America Merrill Lynch survey of fund managers for November. The survey found investors have slightly increased exposure to equities since October's survey so that a net 5% of the panel is underweight equities this month, down from 7% in October. The proportion of investors overweight U.S. equities rose sharply to a net 20% from a net 6% in October. Despite more positive sentiment toward U.S. equities, a small majority of respondents expect the U.S. to receive another downgrade of its debt rating. Some 53% believe another downgrade could take place before the end of 2013 — with 36% predicting a lower rating in 2012. On a similar note, researchers from the Federal Reserve Banks of San Francisco and Kansas City said the odds of a U.S. recession in 2012 are greater than 50% because of the European debt crisis. Meanwhile, emerging markets are bouncing back after a weak October. About 27% of investors are overweight stocks in emerging markets, up from a net 9% last month. The eurozone remains the least popular region, but the proportion of investors underweight eurozone equities ticked down one percentage point to 30%. Michael Hartnett, chief global equities strategist at BofA Merrill Lynch research, said "investors are showing belief in emerging market growth and U.S. resilience, which is key to retaining positive global sentiment." As the eurozone languishes, the proportion of Europeans forecasting regional recession has almost doubled. About 72% of European respondents to the BofAML survey believe the continent will experience a recession in the next 12 months, up from a 37% in October. Still, fears of a global recession have eased. A net 31% of investors expect the world economy to avoid a recession, up from 25% last month, according to the survey. "European growth concerns are more intense but sentiment looks to be close to rock bottom unless Europe’s problems spread to the rest of the world,” added Gary Baker, head of European equities strategy at BofAML. Write to Justin T. Hilley. Follow him on Twitter @JustinHilley.