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AAII Sentiment Survey: Neutral Sentiment Stays Above 45% for Record Stretch

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Neutral sentiment set a new record for the longest stretch above 45%, which has now reached its seventh consecutive week. Optimism set a new two-year low for the third consecutive week in the latest AAII Sentiment Survey.

Bullish sentiment, expectations that stock prices will rise over the next six months, fell 1.5 percentage points to 25.2%. This is the lowest amount of optimism recorded by our survey since April 11, 2013 (19.3%). The drop keeps optimism below its historical average of 39% for the 11th week in a row. This streak now ties an 11-week below-average stretch between March 20 and May 29, 2014.

Neutral sentiment, expectations that stock prices will stay essentially unchanged over the next six months, rose 2.9 percentage points to 49.8%. The increase keeps neutral sentiment above 45% for the seventh consecutive week and above its historical average of 31.0% for the 20th consecutive week.

Bearish sentiment, expectations that stock prices will fall over the next six months, fell 1.4 percentage points to 25.0%. This is the 17th week this year where pessimism has been below its historical average of 30%.

Neutral sentiment set a new record for consecutive weeks above 45%, beating a 27-year record. Neutral sentiment stayed above 45% on six consecutive weeks between May 13 and June 17, 1988. The new record of seven weeks above 45% spans from April 9 to May 21, 2015.

Bullish sentiment remains at an unusually low level, while neutral sentiment continues to stay at an unusually high level. Historically, such readings—both unusually high low bullish sentiment and unusually high neutral sentiment—have been correlated with better-than-average market performance over the following six- and 12-month periods. (See Analyzing the AAII Sentiment Survey Without Hindsight in the June 2014 AAII Journal for more information.) There is no guarantee history will repeat itself in the future, however.

Causing some AAII members to be cautious or pessimistic are prevailing valuations, recent price volatility, geopolitical events, the pace of economic growth, the impact of the stronger dollar on earnings growth and worries that a notable decline in stock prices could occur. Keeping other AAII members encouraged are the ongoing bull market, sustained economic expansion, earnings growth and still-accommodative monetary policy.

This week’s AAII Sentiment Survey results:

  • Bullish: 25.2%, down 1.5 percentage points
  • Neutral: 49.8%, up 2.9 percentage points
  • Bearish: 25.0%, down 1.4 percentage points

Historical averages:

  • Bullish: 39.0%
  • Neutral: 31.0%
  • Bearish: 30.0%

The AAII Sentiment Survey has been conducted weekly since June 1987 and asks AAII members whether they think stock prices will rise, remain essentially flat or fall over the next six months. The survey period runs from Thursday (12:01 a.m.) to Wednesday (11:59 p.m.). The survey and its results are available online at: http://www.aaii.com/sentimentsurvey.

 

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