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It's no longer a 'bear market rally' – BofA survey

Traders work in front of the German share price index, DAX board, at the stock exchange in Frankfurt

LONDON (Reuters) – Investors are their “most bullish” on financial markets since February, when world stocks hit a record high, a Bank of America fund manager survey showed, as hopes of a COVID-19 vaccine and a steady revival of economic activity boost confidence.

A net 46% of investors surveyed by BofA said “it’s a bull market”, up from 40% the previous month. A secular bull market is one where the prevailing trend is for higher prices, with short corrections interrupting it.

World stocks have bounced back by 51% from their mid-March lows, adding $24 trillion in value in five months as investors bet on a rapid rebound in economic activity after record plunges.

Of the 181 survey participants, who manage half-a-trillion dollars in assets, a net 79% expect a stronger economy, the strongest reading since December 2009.

“Asset allocation stubbornly skewed toward U.S. growth stocks,” BofA said. But it added “green shoots” were appearing for inflation assets and rotation into Europe and emerging market equities, which have lagged tech-heavy U.S. stocks.

The survey found that the “most crowded” trade for the fourth month running was a long position in U.S. tech and growth stocks, the ultimate beneficiaries of pandemic-led transformations in the way people work, study and shop.

The long gold trade was the second most crowded, with a net 31% saying the metal was “overvalued”, the most since 2011 after no participants said they considered it to be so last month. Gold rose above $2000 an ounce for the first time earlier this month.

As global equities near record highs again, strategists told Reuters that the quickfire bear-to-bull switch was not only justified but deserves to go further.

But evidence of a fresh rise coronavirus infections in some countries has led to caution and the survey showed that a “second wave” of the pandemic was still seen as the biggest risk to markets for the fifth straight month.

(Reporting by Thyagaraju Adinarayan; Editing by Tom Arnold, Kirsten Donovan)

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