The nation's fund managers are bullish about the prospects for the global economy, according to a poll released yesterday by Merrill Lynch.

The poll leveraged about 288 fund managers who control a combined $933 billion of assets and indicates that 45% of them think the global economy will grow stronger over the next 12 months. About 30% thought it would get weaker.

The new optimism marks the first time since March that more respondents expect strength than weakness.

"The reflation trade is back on," said David Bowers, chief global investment strategist, Merrill Lynch, in a Reuters report. "We are seeing more optimism about the global economy."

Additional expectations are for higher interest rates and lower corporate profits.

The fund managers polled also reported an increased preference for stocks versus bonds and cash. Some 65% of them said that they were now overweight in equities, versus 58% last month and 56% in June.

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