Most Professional Investors Agree With the Fed on Inflation, Bank of America Survey Shows

  • Nearly three-quarters of fund managers think inflation is temporary, according to the latest Bank of America survey.
  • Respondents also see commodities, which are closely related to inflation, as being the most-crowded trade.

Inflation is likely temporary, and trades built around it being longer term are now the most overdone in the market, according to Bank of America's June Global Fund Manager Survey.

The closely watched gauge of professional investors indicates that Wall Street is in line with the Federal Reserve's view that recent price pressures will lighten up as the year goes on and eventually recede to normal levels.

Some 73% of respondents said they see inflation as "transitory," while just 23% say it is permanent.

The survey covers 224 panelists with $667 billion under management, and it ran June 4-June 10. The poll covers a gamut of investor issues, from where the economy and markets are heading to how much cash portfolio managers are holding and which trades they see as most overdone.

On that last point, investors view commodities as the most-crowded trade, replacing last month's leader, bitcoin. Commodities generally attract big cash when inflation fears are running high, and the most recent readings have shown peaks not seen in well over a decade.

The most recent indication came Tuesday, when prices on products and services that companies use rose 6.6% over the past year, the biggest gain since the Labor Department started keeping track in August 2010.

Even though investors largely agree with the Fed's characterization that the inflation burst will pass, they still see the central bank soon taking the first steps to tightening policy.

Respondents see the Fed likely to begin talk of tapering its $120 billion of monthly bond purchases in the coming months. Sixty-three percent expect a signal in August or September, with 38% seeing it coming at the annual Jackson Hole summit in August and 25% expecting it to start at the September Federal Open Market Committee meeting.

The move to reduce bond purchases, however anticipated, could generate a negative market reaction. Survey respondents rated a taper tantrum in the bond market — that is, a sharp uptick in yields — as the biggest "tail risk," or unlikely event that could cause substantial damage. Bond yields move inversely to prices.

Investors generally see the market rally continuing. In fact, they've cut cash levels down to 3.9%, which Bank of America says is a contrarian "sell" signal. At the same time, fund managers have reduced bond allocations to a three-year low.

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