Despite central banks keeping interest rates at the lowest levels in history and buying debt like there’s no tomorrow, the mountain of debt is not getting any smaller. Emerging markets are, as usual, the place where people are looking for the first signs of trouble.
It seems that nothing can break the bond rally — or deflate the bond bubble, as critics would say. Inflows into bond funds have hit a record this year, in tandem with record high bond prices, but how long can the euphoria last?
There have been “massive” outflows from capital markets in the past week, but although they brought Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s “bull and bear” indicator close to the “buy” signal, they haven’t managed to trigger it.
This past week, there has been a frenzy of selling of emerging markets assets. The outflows from both stocks and debt in emerging markets reached their highest level since December 2016.
This amounted to $3.7 billion withdrawn from emerging market equities and bonds, according to data analysed by Bank of America Merrill Lynch. These outflows have helped push our old friend, the Bull/Bear indicator developed by BofA Merrill Lynch, to 4.8 — its lowest level since January 2017.
The past week has not been encouraging for investors, with many asset classes haemorrhaging funds at increased speed.
The week before that, on January 30, the Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s Bull/Bear indicator triggered a sell signal for the first time in five years, and markets sold off.
The Bank of America Merrill Lynch Bull/Bear indicator last week hit the highest level since its last sell signal, just as U.S. President Donald Trump took credit, once again, for the surge in the stock market.
Sentiment was getting even closer to triggering a “sell” signal in the stock markets last week, as investors’ enthusiasm climbed even more.
It’s hard to find a more bullish start to a year than this one. There were “blockbuster” inflows of capital into stocks, as well as corporate and emerging markets bonds, according to the latest analysis by Bank of America Merrill Lynch.
Investors’ optimism remained at very high levels, despite the beginning of tapering of quantitative easing by the European Central Bank (ECB), tensions with North Korea and the Catalan crisis.