Sentiment has taken a big swing higher across surveys this week as the S&P 500 has experienced some upside mean reversion. The weekly AAII sentiment survey has seen bullish sentiment rebound from a sub-20% reading all the way back up to 32%. Relative to the historical average of 37.84%, that reading continues to show a depressed level of optimism for individual investors, but it is the strongest reading since the week of March 24th.  As for the 12.2 percentage point jump in bullish sentiment week over week, it was the largest one week gain since the week of October 14th of last year when it rose 12.4 percentage points.

Bullish Sentiment

As bullish sentiment surged, there was a massive 16.4 percentage point drop in bearish sentiment.  That was the largest one week decline in the reading on pessimism since July 15, 2010 when it fell 19.27 percentage points. Now at 37.1%, bearish sentiment is at the lowest level since the end of March.

Bearish Sentiment

Such a large decline in bearish sentiment in only one week has pretty much been unheard of in the post Financial Crisis years.  Again, July 2010 was the last time bears fell by at least 15 percentage points and before that there are only about two dozen other occurrences without another instance in the previous three months. While it was a big decline, bearish sentiment remains fairly elevated at 37.1%, but that is inline with most other occurrences since the mid 2000s whereas bearish sentiment was generally lower from the occurrences before 2005.

As for how the S&P 500 has tended to do following these massive bearish sentiment shifts, the S&P 500 has generally tended to move higher with outperformance versus the norm on a median basis one week and one month out. Although again performance is consistently positive, the size of gains have tended to be below or more inline with the norm three, six, and twelve months out from these occurrences.

Performance After Drop in Bearish Sentiment

After the large moves in bulls and bears this week, sentiment continues to favor pessimism but to a much smaller degree than recent weeks as the bull bear spread narrowed to -5.1 points.  Click here to learn more about Bespoke’s premium stock market research service.

AAII Sentiment Survey

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