The S&P 500 closed Wednesday less than 1.5% from an all-time closing high, but looking at the most recent sentiment figures from AAII, you would think that equities are in a bear market. According to this week’s sentiment survey, bullish sentiment fell to 24.83% down from 27.94%. That’s the lowest weekly reading since late June, the 47th straight week that bullish sentiment was below 40%, and the 81st time in the last 82 weeks that we have seen sub-40% readings. Based on this survey at least, it is hard to say that investors are complacent.
While the bullish camp increasingly shrinks, bears are showing up all over the place. It wasn’t just the recent Delivering Alpha conference from CNBC where bears were everywhere, but individual investors are increasingly bearish. According to this week’s survey, bearish sentiment increased from 35.92% up to 38.28%. This is the first week that bearish sentiment has been higher than both bullish and neutral sentiment as well as the highest weekly reading since the February market lows.