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A briefing for investors

Better Worry, They're Happy . . .

July 23, 1998|Bloomberg News, Times Staff

Here's another reason to feel bearish: Too many investment pros are bullish.

The percentage of investment newsletter writers who consider themselves bullish on the stock market has reached 54.3%--the highest since a 54.6% reading on April 17, according to Investors Intelligence newsletter, which conducts the weekly survey.

That April high in bullish sentiment occurred just days before the stock market began its spring slump.

That's the way it has gone, historically, for the Investors Intelligence survey: It often works beautifully as a "contrary" market indicator.

In other words, when the newsletter writers crowd the bullish camp, the market often stalls or swoons. And when the bearish camp loads up, that often heralds a major market rally.

Consider: The percentage of newsletter writers who considered themselves bullish on stocks fell from 54.6% at the April high to 41.7% on June 12. That was just before the market hit bottom on June 15, with the Dow Jones industrial average falling to 8,627.

The percentage of bearish newsletter writers was 31.7% by June 12, way up from just 23.6% in mid-April.

(Those who aren't bullish or bearish consider themselves in the "correction" camp, meaning they expect a 10%-or-so-market slide in the near future.)


Another bit of significance to the latest bullish reading: It marks the sixth straight weekly increase in the bulls' camp.

That's the longest streak since a string of seven weekly increases that ended last Oct. 10.

Two days later the Dow began a steep decline tied to Asia's worsening economic crisis. The blue-chip index sank from 8,096 on Oct. 14 to 7,161 on Oct. 27, an 11.5% drop.


Bad-News Bulls?

The percentage of investment newsletter writers who say they're bullish on stocks has hit the highest level since mid-April. But their optimism often is a "contrary" signal, analysts warn. Weekly newsletter poll results:

Bulls as of Wednesday: 54.3%

Bears: 23.3%

Note: Writers who aren't bullish or bearish expect a short-term market "correction."

Source: Investors Intelligence

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