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Fear of heights: ‘Most hated bull market’

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In clinical terms the extreme or irrational fear of heights is known as acrophobia. It’s derived from the Greek word meaning “peak, summit, and edge”.

In fact most of us suffer somewhat from a natural fear of heights especially when there is little support or protection. According to Wikipedia, acrophobia has been attributed to a “traumatic experience involving heights”. Investors these days still seem to suffer from acrophobia.

The recent “traumatic fall” in 2008 has held investors back through much of this rally as they have waited for an inevitable fall.

Investment flow data continues to point to a not so exuberant environment.

The Investment Company Institute records show $16.97 billion flowed into bond funds in May, while only $3.91 billion flowed into equity funds. Main Street still seems somewhat reluctant to embrace what has been a spectacular bull market. In fact at this stage it is beginning to seem like most investors are afraid of heights.

The S&P500 has climbed about 150 percent from its bottom in March of 2009. It is now sitting at an all-time high.

Wall Street strategists continue to advocate being underweight equities. Not only have they been horribly wrong but the level of allocations is still extremely low. This would seem to indicate that the Street will continue to chase stocks higher to make up for years of being under allocated.

Sentiment from individual investors has also dropped over the past week. In fact as recently as last month bullish sentiment was so low it was at levels not witnessed since the March 2009 low!

In general this has been what many have referred to as the “most hated bull market in history”.

Over the near term, it would not be unlikely to see the market take a breather. Economic data has been mixed. The flood of liquidity from central banks around the world has helped support the market in recent months but this may be ebbing as “QE infinity” from the US Federal Reserve is no longer the mantra and the talk of “tapering” or slowing asset purchases has become common parlance. Part of this has manifested itself in a bond sell-off. Here is a chart of the iShares Barclays 20+ Year Treasury Bond Fund. It offers a good proxy for the long dated bond market.

Long bonds were down about 8 percent in May.

The bond bull market may have come to an end and the rotation into equities may be beginning.

Weaker economic data, stretched technical indicators and a more hawkish central bank may create a near-term correction in the market. This would not change our more positive view of the market over the intermediate term, however.

Although we find certain sectors of the market extended, especially those associated with the “grab for yield” such as REITS, Master Limited Partnerships and select dividend paying sectors such as utilities, many areas offer value and are benefiting from the fall in the commodities sector and revival of stronger US domestic growth.

A brief fall from these heights should help lower investors’ fear of falling. Besides, if you stick to buying undervalued securities, you limit the height you can fall.

Disclaimer: The information and opinions contained in this material are derived from proprietary and non-proprietary sources deemed by Anchor Investment Management Ltd. to be reliable, are not necessarily all-inclusive and are not guaranteed as to accuracy. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. There is no guarantee that any forecasts made will come to pass. Reliance upon information in this material is at the sole discretion of the reader. Investment involves risks. Readers should consult their financial advisers prior to any investment decision.

Source: Bloomberg AAII US Investor Sentiment Bullish Readings
Source: Bloomberg US Stock Market Allocation Strategy

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Published June 03, 2013 at 2:45 pm (Updated June 03, 2013 at 2:45 pm)

Fear of heights: ‘Most hated bull market’

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