Are Bulls An Endangered Species?

The S&P 500 Index closed at a new all-time high yesterday, the 5th new high so far in 2019. After May, the worst month for the S&P 500 since 2010, June is up 7.3% as of 06.20.19, which would be the best June since 1955.

Much of the rally this month has been sparked by a more dovish Federal Reserve (Fed), combined with U.S.-China trade discussions potentially back on track.

What’s quite interesting about things now though, is many signs of investor sentiment are a long way from bullish. Remember, from a contrarian (or opposing) point of view, this can suggest there is still money on the sidelines.

“The S&P 500 might be at new highs, but global fund managers and individual investors are quite underweight equities right now,” explained LPL Senior Market Strategist Ryan Detrick. “If you are looking for a reason this rally can continue, that could be it.”

For example, the recent Bank of America Merrill Lynch June Global Fund Manager Survey (a survey of managers who oversee more than $600 billion in assets) showed the largest jump in cash since August 2011. Additionally, equity allocation was the lowest it had been since March 2009, and the equity-to-bond allocation was the lowest since May 2009. Not to mention the allocation to bonds was the highest it had been in eight years. “Money on the sidelines might sound cliché, but it really seems to be the case this time,” said Detrick. With the S&P 500 hitting more all-time highs, having money in the market may make more sense (or cents!).

Individual investors are skeptical as well, as the recent American Association of Individual Investors (AAII) Sentiment Survey showed more bears than bulls for six straight weeks, the longest stretch since November 2016. Finally, as our LPL Chart of the Day shows, AAII bulls have been under 30% for six consecutive weeks for the first time since January 2016.

Where Did The Bulls Go?

Source: LPL Research, American Association of Individual Investors 6/21/19

What does it all mean? Be on the lookout for our Midyear Outlook 2019, which is set to be released next week, for more on what we think is in store for stocks, bonds, and the economy the rest of 2019.

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