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MORE *** ysts and fund managers are telling investors not to catch a falling knife.

Global stock markets are going through a turbulent time, where fear has overwhelmed fundamentals.

Even the companies with strong earnings prospects are seeing their shares tumbling, signalling that the frenetic stock rally may have finally come to an end.

So far this year, the US Dow Jones Industrial Index is down by over 18%, while the FBM KLCI fell by only 7%.

The FBM KLCI “outperforming” the Dow Jones is not a complete shocker, considering that Malaysian blue-chips have already been battered since last year due to weak local sentiment.

What is more worrying is that the FBM Small Cap Index is edging closer to bear territory after falling by 14.5% in the past two months.

The bearish market sentiment has also affected assets outside of the equities universe such as cryptocurrencies.

Luno Malaysia country manager Aaron Tang says the cryptocurrency market has been in a sideways or bear market since May 2021.

“However, since November 2021, sentiment has changed drastically given the Federal Reserve’s (Fed) rate hikes and inflation management.

“If one looks at previous bear markets, bitcoin has declined around 80% normally, with altcoins typically doing 90%.

“If that remains the case, we could see much lower bitcoin prices over the next month or two,” he says, adding a caveat that past performance is not indicative of future trends.

Meanwhile, the spot price of gold – traditionally seen as a safe haven – has also fallen by almost 7% in the past two months.

Amid the massive sell-off in risk assets, global fund managers have turned more cautious on equities.

In addition, an increasing number of them are keeping cash as they take a wait-and-see approach.

In its recent monthly survey, Bank of America reported that fund managers’ fears of stagflation are at the highest since the 2008 financial crisis, while global growth optimi *** has sunk to a record low.

Global profit expectations also dropped to 2008 levels, with about 73% of the respondents expecting a weaker economy in the next 12 months.

Looking ahead, one wonders whether the world is entering a long period of a bear market. Concerns on surging inflation and a potential recession just as the global economy starts to recover, have dampened sentiment.

The fact that the Fed and central banks across Europe are raising interest rates, some by amounts that shocked markets, have elevated the fear on global economic outlooks.

In Malaysia, all eyes are on Bank Negara’s decision on the overnight policy rate in its upcoming July meeting.

While many economists believe that the central bank is unlikely to be as aggressive as the Fed in raising interest rates, there are fears that an untimely hike in the overnight policy rate could cap economic recovery.