US stock investors have gotten so confident that it’s concerning strategists at JPMorgan Chase & Co.
“There is complacency in sentiment evident, VIX is near record low and positioning has increased” to above-average levels, a team led by Mislav Matejka wrote in a note. “There is no more safety net” and FOMO — the fear of missing out — is in full swing.
US equities have rallied this year amid hopes interest rates will peak soon while the economy holds up better than expected. The gains were especially pronounced in tech stocks over optimism about developments in artificial intelligence. Sentiment and positioning are far from bearish even though September is typically weak for stocks, Matejka said.
“There is no cushion anymore, as investor sentiment is now fully signed up to a soft landing,” the strategists said.
The 12-month forward price-to-earnings ratio of 19 times for the MSCI USA Index is stretched at these levels, especially versus higher real yields, his team wrote. While multiples show a positive correlation with earnings-per-share momentum, earnings revisions might turn lower again, they said.
International equities continue to screen more attractive than the US, according to the Matejka. His team remains overweight on the rest of the world, with a focus on Switzerland, while remaining underweight on the US — a strategy that hasn’t yet panned out as the S&P 500 is outperforming the MSCI All-Country World Index excluding the US this year.