As we noted in an earlier post, today’s release of the AAII survey gives us the final reading of the year on sentiment, solidifying a number of points as to just how dour the investor outlook has been.

For starters, the bull-bear spread heavily favors bears, and that has been the case for some time now.  As shown below, the spread has been negative (meaning a higher share of respondents are reporting as bearish than bullish) for a record 39 weeks in a row- over a month longer than the previous record which occurred recently in 2020.

Across all weeks in 2022, bullish sentiment averaged a reading of merely 24.73%.  Since the survey began in 1987, that is a record low.  In fact, the previous lowest readings were a few percentage points higher at 27.29% and 27.08% in 1988 and 1990, respectively.  Meanwhile, the average reading on bearish sentiment was historically elevated at a record of 46.2%, surpassing the prior record set in 2008 by one percentage point. Prior to 2008/2009, only 1990 saw a very high average reading for bearish sentiment.

As we highlighted in an earlier tweet, given the low readings on bullish sentiment, there was not even a single week this year in which bullish sentiment came in above its historical average of  37.63%. Of course with a low share of survey respondents reporting as bullish, a larger share would be reporting as bearish. To match the impressive reading with no weeks seeing above-average bullish sentiment, nearly every week this year (51) has seen bearish sentiment come in above its historical average of 31%, tying the record high set in 2009.

As previously mentioned, bullish sentiment averaged a reading below 25% this year. Given that reading, it should come as no surprise that 2022 also saw a record number of weeks (30) with bulls below 25%. Prior to this year, 1988 (one year after the survey began) was the prior record at 23 weeks. In other words, this year there were nearly two months more in which less than a quarter of investors reported as bullish than the previous record. Additionally, there had been 17 weeks in which over half of the responses were bearish.  Similar to the number of weeks in which bearish sentiment was above average, that ties 2008 for the record high.  Click here to learn more about Bespoke’s premium stock market research service.

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