Fund managers back Europe

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The Independent Online
Shrugging off apocalyptic talk of an imminent crash in global stock markets, fund managers are becoming more optimistic about the prospect for equities on both sides of the Atlantic, according to survey of their investment plans published today.

This summer has seen a procession of doom-and-gloom merchants lining up to warn of an imminent collapse of stock markets world-wide. They were led by Elaine Garzarelli, credited with calling the 1987 crash, who said US shares might fall by up 20 per cent from their recent peaks.

Her prognosis, and fears of an imminent rise in US interest rates, led to volatile trading on Wall Street and in London.

But fund managers are clearly taking their cue from a recent clutch of benign US economic data that has taken the selling pressure off stock markets.

In its August poll of 74 financial institutions, handling funds worth pounds 931bn, US investment bank Merrill Lynch finds that the balance of UK- based fund managers planning to reduce exposure to UK shares has fallen to just 3 per cent from 21 per cent last month and a low of 39 per cent in June.

On a 12-month view of the UK stock market, the balance of bulls to bears is 32 per cent compared with 20 per cent in July.

Institutional investors are also adopting a more upbeat attitude towards Wall Street. A balance of 14 per cent of respondents are looking to cut their weightings in US shares compared with 20 per cent last month.

And fund managers are continuing to back the recent recovery in the UK property market, with a balance of 8 per cent planning to raise exposure, up from 5 per cent a month ago.