Among all the major asset classes, cash is king right now.
Weekly flow data from Bank of America Corp. and EPFR Global continue to show a clear investor preference for money-market funds. Assets under management in this category have swelled to $4.5 trillion following seven week of inflows that added $877 billion to the cash pile.
Labeled a “mountain of cash” by BofA strategists led by Michael Hartnett, money-market funds have seen steady additions as investors shun risk assets amid concerns about the deadly pandemic’s impact on global economic growth. The fund manager survey from early April showed that institutional investors now hold the most cash since the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
In the week through April 15, investors put $52.7 billion into cash, compared with $14.1 billion in additions to bond funds and $10.7 billion of inflows into equities, according to the BofA note.
The latest data highlight the vulnerability of the rebound in global equities, which have rallied more than 20% from their March lows on optimism about expanding monetary and fiscal aid, as well as an easing coronavirus case count in major regions.
BofA strategists say that there’s a “disconnect” between a surge in U.S. unemployment and a rally in the stock market and that for fresh and broader gains to occur, investors will need to believe in the economy.
They also point to the fact that the rebound in risk assets following the March sell-off has been “extraordinarily polarized.” While investment-grade bonds and tech stocks have completely erased declines, oil, emerging-market, small-cap and global financial stocks have been largely left behind.
The S&P 500 may reach its ceiling at 2,850 to 2,950 -- as much as 5.4% above current levels -- and its floor may be at 2,350-2,450 -- as much as 16% below the Thursday close, according to BofA. The strategists recommend a portfolio balanced between allocations to gold, cash, bonds and stocks to preserve wealth in the 2020s.
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