Bears take the upper hand in emerging markets
A survey of market sentiment for emerging markets shows investors bearish over the short term for the first time since June last year
The survey, carried out by Societe Generale among 84 clients in Asia, Europe and the US in February, showed 39.3% of clients were bearish for the 2-week horizon, versus 38.1% bullish.
A previous survey in January showed that for the 2-week outlook the population of bearish investors grew in size, with some 22% of emerging markets investors bearish in the near term, as opposed to some 15% a month earlier.
Out of the 84 clients surveyed in February, 44 were hedge funds and 40 were real-money investors such as pension funds. Bullish sentiment still prevailed for real-money investors, with bulls accounting of 42.5% of them, while in the hedge funds group 40.9% of them were bears.
The size of the neutral investor population for emerging markets increased to 22.6% from Januarys 16%.
The surveys short-term sentiment indicator turned negative in February for the first time since June 2012.
The conviction level how strong the bullish or bearish sentiment is - is measured on a scale from -5 (maximum bearish) to +5 (maximum bullish).
In response to the question what is your sentiment towards global emerging markets over the next two weeks the average score for all combined investors was -0.13, a sharp fall from Januarys +0.78. It was +1.15 in December.
This is highly significant in our view, as it illustrates a severe collapse of sentiment towards emerging markets in just a few months, the Societe Generale analysts who carried out the survey said in the statement with the results.
STILL BULLISH LONGER TERM
For the 3-month horizon, investors are still bullish on global emerging markets but to a much smaller extent than in January, with 65.5% saying they were bullish compared with 80.2% in the first month of the year.
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In terms of positioning, investors were already cutting risk-taking in January and this trend was even more pronounced last month.
The distribution of scores in terms of positioning is now skewed towards a more neutral risk-taking, with only 57.1% of total investors now running positive risk, down from 69.1% in January, the surveys authors said.
There are now more investors who feel they are over-invested meaning that their risk-position should be reduced if they were to be aligned with their sentiment than the opposite, with 45.2% feeling they are over-invested versus just 29.8% who feel they are under-invested.
This is potentially negative for global emerging markets as it points to the need for higher bearish risk-taking, the Societe Generale analysts said.
Among hedge fund investors, 61.4% are perceived as over-invested against only 15.9% under-invested.But among real-money investors the picture remains favorable for emerging markets, with 45% feeling they are under-invested compared to 27.5% believing they are over-invested.
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