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TOKYO, March 31 (Reuters) - Japanese fund managers increased their exposure to equities in March but at a pedestrian pace amid concerns the “Trump trade” could be losing steam.
The survey of five Japan-based fund managers conducted between March 21 and 27 showed respondents on average wanted to allocate 38.7 percent of their model portfolios to stocks in March, from 38.5 percent in February.
Within stocks, the respondents kept North American stock exposure unchanged at 28.0 percent in March while reducing Japanese equities to 43.8 percent from 46.1 percent in February. They cut euro zone stocks to 8.3 percent from 11.0 percent and kept Asian equities steady at 6.7 percent.
The Dow reached a record high at the start of March but slumped to a six-week low this week as U.S. President Donald Trump’s failure to push through a key healthcare bill raised questions about his administration’s ability to enact fiscal stimulus measures. Japan’s Nikkei has also pulled back sharply from 15-month highs scaled early this month.
Much of Wall Street’s rally since the November election has been driven by expectations of a boost to the economy from Trump’s promises to cut taxes, ease financial regulation and lift infrastructure spending.
“Doubts towards the Trump administration’s ability to push through policy steps are unlikely to clear easily and U.S. equities are expected to remain in an adjustment phase for a while,” Yuichi Kodama, chief economist at Meiji Yasuda Insurance.
“But equities could enjoy another run higher towards the summer as hopes for Trump-initiated fiscal policy steps are likely to be rekindled by then.”
The respondents raised their overall bond exposure by a miniscule amount, increasing it to 55.1 percent in March from 55.0 percent in February.
They raised North American bonds to 35.1 percent from 28.4 percent in February amid a significant advance this month by U.S. debt. Treasuries have gained steadily in price since the middle of the month, when the Federal Reserve hiked interest rates but did not meet heightened expectations for an aggressive policy tightening profile over the rest of the year.
The respondents kept their Japanese bond exposure unchanged at 38.4 percent in March while trimming euro zone debt to 16.8 percent from 18.5 percent. (Reporting by Shinichi Saoshiro)