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Inflation expectations 'soar,' and Trump's win is 'unambiguously positive' for GDP, says BofAML

Traders on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.
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Traders on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

Fund managers are betting on a post-election future where inflation finally takes root, the economy shows real growth, and cash is no longer king.

In its first survey since Donald Trump's improbable victory last week, Bank of America Merrill Lynch found an abrupt change in investor sentiment.

The pre-election scenario saw investors running to cash and listing a Trump victory as the most likely threat to disrupt markets. Post-election, attitudes have turned.

Cash allocations have fallen to 5 percent in November from 5.8 percent in October. BofAML analysts had been calling cash levels this year "consistent with recession"; now, they're not far away from what would be considered over-exuberance, or about 4.8 percent.

At the same time, a world not long ago on the cusp of deflation now finds itself worried about things going in the other direction. Higher inflation is now expected by a net 85 percent of the fund managers surveyed by BofAML, a 12-year high.

Finally, as the global economy has been mired in a growth slump that has featured U.S. GDP languishing around 2 percent, Trump's win is now seen as "unambiguously positive" for nominal gains.

Respondents now expect the yield curve — or the spread between short- and long-term bond yields — to steepen significantly. Since the October survey, the net level of investors looking for a steeper curve jumped from 31 percent to 65 percent, the biggest monthly gain in the survey's history.

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From an investment standpoint, managers now see money moving away from emerging markets, technology, telecom and utilities, and into banks, health care and U.S.-focused equities. Bank stocks have been laggards since the 2008 financial crisis but have been on a tear since the election, with the KBW Nasdaq Bank index surging 14 percent since polls closed.

Exchange-traded funds have seen massive inflows to stock-based investments during the period.

The SPDR S&P 500 Trust, which tracks the broad market index, has taken in $10.6 billion, while the small-cap iShares Russell 2000 has gathered $5.3 billion and the Financial Select Sector SPDR has seen more than $4 billion in inflows, according to FactSet.

The iShares TIPS Bond ETF, which tracks Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities, has seen $195.6 million in fresh investor cash, though the inflation-hedged bonds actually have declined in price over the past week.

Gold-based funds also have been a surprising lower in investors cash, with the SPDR Gold Trust seeing $843.8 billion in redemptions.