Traders are bailing from US stocks

Traders are dumping US stocks to a degree not seen in 13 years.

They have pulled money out of US equity funds for 10 straight weeks, the longest such streak since 2004, according to data compiled by Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

Screen Shot 2017 08 25 at 8.42.24 AM
Traders are bailing from US stocks to a degree not seen since 2004. Bank of America Merrill Lynch

But that’s not to say investors are giving up on stocks entirely. Global equities saw a $US3.1 billion inflow this past week, suggesting that traders may be pulling money out of the US and reallocating it internationally.

That they’re electing to do so isn’t especially surprising, considering that the Federal Reserve is in tightening mode as other central banks around the world remain accommodative by comparison. But it does signal a creeping lack of confidence in the future of the US stock market — one that could be facing a crippling earnings growth slowdown.

On a sector basis, the trend for tech stocks is also looking bleak. Funds tracking the sector saw $US600 million of outflows this past week, the most in almost a year, BAML says. That comes just two weeks after investors dumped more than $US1 billion of tech stocks, the biggest offloading since January 2016.

This is not to say the end of the eight-year bull market is nigh. A proprietary indicator managed by BAML has not yet hit a sell trigger, although it’s been gradually inching closer over time, the firm says.

Instead, the market will continue along with its so-called “Icarus rally,” which is the term BAML has coined for the “melt up” seen in stocks and commodities since early 2016.

Large market speculators and Wall Street strategists agree. Hedge funds are their most bullish on the S&P 500 since early May, according to data compiled by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. And the stock gurus at large banks forecast that the benchmark index will climb another 2.4% by year-end from Thursday’s closing level.