Fund managers pared back their exposure to emerging market equities this month, with appetite for risk declining, a survey of fund managers shows.
The survey, carried out by Bank of America Merrill Lynch, shows that just 13% of global investors reported overweight allocations to emerging market stocks, the lowest level since October 2011 and down from 34% last month.
The number of respondents who expect the global economy to strengthen over the next 12 months fell by 12 percentage points to a net 49% of the sample, with the threat of a US fiscal crisis seen receding but anxiety over the eurozone and the potential for conflict in Korea intensifying.
The results showed that the possibility of a hard landing in China remained a concern.
The survey polled an overall total of 252 panellists with $725 billion of assets under management between April 5 and April 11.
A total of 200 managers, managing $578 billion, participated in the global survey while 125 managers, managing $293 billion, participated in the regional surveys.
There were some bright spots amid the doom and gloom.
Emerging markets investors raised their exposure to Turkey, with a net 53% overweight, thus making Turkey the favoured country, followed closely by Thailand, in which 47% reported a net overweight position.
The biggest swing in sentiment was in the case in India, which moved from a net 44% overweight to a net 27% underweight.
The least favoured countries were South Africa (net 80% underweight) and Taiwan and Colombia, both with 53% net underweight.
Among Asia – Pacific investors, exposure to Malaysia and the Philippines improved notably this month, with 10% and 5% respectively net overweight.
China, however, moved from a net overweight last month to a neutral allocation.
In Asia, sentiment towards banks and energy saw big swings this month, with both sectors moving from net overweight positions to net underweight.
Exposure to technology in Asia was raised to 50% overweight and the sector ties with retail as the favoured one. Enthusiasm towards autos fell but the sector is still a net 20% overweight.
The Asian results for sector allocation contrast with those recorded among emerging market fund managers as a whole, where financials show a net 53% overweight position.
Emerging market fund managers reduced exposure to the discretionary and technology sectors, but they both still remained a net overweight.
The number of investors reporting an overweight position in materials fell to a record low, with a net 67% underweight.