Stocktake: Investor positioning is getting lopsided

The last time investors were so exposed to equities was in January 2018

President Donald Trump and vice premier Liu He of China shake hands after signing a limited trade agreement  on January 15th. Photograph: Pete Marovich/The New York Times

President Donald Trump and vice premier Liu He of China shake hands after signing a limited trade agreement on January 15th. Photograph: Pete Marovich/The New York Times

 

2020 is only a few weeks old but markets have already hit multiple all-time highs, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average last week closing above the 29,000 level after the US and China signed a limited trade deal. Too far, too fast? Positioning is certainly getting lopsided, according to Deutsche Bank data. The last time investors were so exposed to equities was in January 2018, immediately before markets topped out following a rally during which stocks barely paused for breath.

It should be noted equity positioning was much more extended back then, although the fact that the latest reading is more extreme than 96 per cent of instances over the past decade suggests there’s more than a little exuberance around right now. Much of this appears to be machine driven, with systematic strategies noticeably more in overweight equities compared to discretionary strategies. Overbought equities can remain overbought in strong markets, of course, but positioning is clearly “stretched”, cautions the bank.

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