Survey: Fund managers see greater recession risk

LONDON — More fund managers now fear the credit crisis could lead to a global recession, according to a monthly Merrill Lynch survey.

The January survey, which polled 195 fund managers managing $671 billion, showed that 19 percent of managers now believe a global recession is either likely or very likely over the next twelve months. That's up from 13 percent taking this view a month ago.

A net 8 percent of managers believe a recession has already begun, up from 4 percent holding this view a month ago, and compared with a reading of 0 in November, the survey showed.

"The period of denial, by some investors, that the credit crunch could have serious repercussions for the real economy may be over," said David Bowers, independent consultant to Merrill Lynch.

Short-term interest rates are set to fall within 12 months, according to fund managers polled, with a net 70 percent expecting lower short-term rates in 12 months, up from 63 percent holding this view in December.

Sentiment has changed notably towards Europe as an investment region, the survey also found. A net 80 percent of European fund managers now expect growth in earnings per share in the region to deteriorate, up from a net 53 percent holding this view in December.

"While arguments to be bullish on European equities persist, it is clear that investors are bracing themselves for a raft of earnings downgrades," said Karen Olney, chief European equities strategist at Merrill Lynch.

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