Funds raise bets on investment-grade bonds, U.S. stocks: Reuters poll

Thu Aug 30, 2012 7:08am EDT
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By Sam Forgione

NEW YORK (Reuters) - In a sign of increased optimism about the economic outlook, U.S. money managers increased their stake in investment-grade corporate bonds and U.S. stocks in August, while reducing their exposure to U.S. Treasuries, a Reuters poll showed.

U.S.-based asset management firms increased their average stake in U.S. and Canadian bonds to 64.3 percent from 58.9 percent in July, according to the poll of 13 respondents taken Aug 13-28.

Firms raised their exposure to investment-grade corporates to 35.8 percent from 25.9 percent in July. At the same time, they reduced holdings of higher yielding "junk" bonds to 10.3 percent, down from 13.2 percent in the prior month.

"A number of fixed-income investors want the added yield of corporate bonds, but they are also seeking safety," said Alan Gayle, senior investment strategist at Ridgeworth Investments, with regards to shift away from junk bonds to corporates.

While U.S. and Canadian bonds as a group attracted more investment flows, the firms decreased their overall stake in bonds to 27.6 percent from 28.8 percent in July.

Government securities especially fell out of favor, attracting an average allocation of 38.6 percent, down from 48.8 percent in July. The polling data reflected a marked shift away from U.S. Treasuries.

Russell Price, a senior economist at Ameriprise Financial said the move out of Treasuries is a sign that money managers are feeling more confident in the U.S. economy. He pointed to improving homes sales, business activity and stronger retail sales figures as bolstering that more optimistic view.

The poll also showed a sharp change in expectations about the U.S. Federal Reserve's future plans to stimulate the U.S. economy. Only 44 percent of investors expect it to embark on a third round of bond purchases, or quantitative easing, by end-2012, down from 70 percent in the same poll last month.   Continued...