June 29, 2018 / 11:52 AM / 10 months ago

U.S. funds remain cautious faced with trade war threat: Reuters poll

(Reuters) - U.S. fund managers in June replicated defensive recommendations from the previous month with slightly more cash, a Reuters poll showed, underscoring worries that a U.S. trade conflict with China and some of its own allies will hurt global growth.

FILE PHOTO: Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, U.S., June 25, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

With no let-up in the U.S. administration’s protectionist campaign, stock markets, and particularly emerging markets, are in retreat, causing bond yields to fall despite the Federal Reserve’s intention to keep raising interest rates.

Reuters’ monthly survey of 12 U.S.-based money managers with a total of over $1.3 trillion assets under management found that long-term investors share those concerns.

Global equity allocations accounted for an average 56.7 percent of the model portfolio, down from 56.9 percent in the previous month, which was the lowest since October. Bond allocations came in at 35.9 percent, nudging up from the over two-year high of 35.8 percent in May.

The only notable change in the poll was an increase in cash holdings to the highest in over a year, 3.5 percent, up from 3.2 percent the month before.

“The risk of a full-scale trade war is real and is dangerously close to delivering a significant supply shock to not just the domestic economy but also globally,” said a fund manager at a large U.S. investment firm. “So, best to build on cash and be ready to buy into cyclical rallies.”

That shift in favor of safe-haven bets by fund managers are similar to findings of separate Reuters polls of equity strategists and fixed-income experts on the outlook for stocks and bonds markets.

But some fund managers also argued expectations for solid domestic economic performance this year will keep their preference for equities intact.

“We believe the facts of a healthy economy and strong earnings growth justify a bias in favor of equities and away from bonds. However, less accommodative central bank policies and the potential for a trade war are tangible threats to an otherwise positive outlook,” said Alan Gayle, president at Via Nova Investment Management.

“Caution, not fear, is warranted,” he said.

Global wrap-up: [ASSET/WRAP]

Europe poll story: [EUR/ASSET]

UK poll story: [GB/ASSET]

Japan poll story: [JP/ASSET]

China poll story: [CN/ASSET]

Reporting and polling by Rahul Karunakar, editing by Larry King

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