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Data: Boston Consulting Group; Chart: Sara Wise/Axios

Just over half of investors (53%) are bullish on the S&P 500 over the next three years — even as the index sits at or near record levels, according to a bi-weekly sentiment survey released Thursday by Boston Consulting Group.

Why it matters: Strength in long-term market views was on full display over the past week, as stocks largely shrugged off seemingly negative data.

  • Major indexes had muted reactions to last Friday’s disappointing jobs numbers, the Colonial Pipeline cyberattack and higher-than-expected inflation data.

Yes, but: In the shorter term, many say they're slightly less optimistic than they had been. About 47% have a bullish view of the S&P 500 in 2022, down from 57% who held that view in July of last year.

  • The shrinking bullish contingent reflects the fact that valuations have expanded rapidly and the economic rebound is more priced in, Hady Farag, BCG partner and associate director, tells Axios.

Meanwhile, the economic recovery has shifted expectations for corporate behavior.

  • Just 54% think it’s important for healthy companies to focus on preserving liquidity, the lowest reading in the survey’s history. The high was 79% in April 2020.
  • And 56% believe companies should quickly access all available sources of debt financing, also a record low. It was at 73% last April.

On the flip side: More investors are now comfortable with companies maintaining dividends and doing share repurchases.

  • They also have lower tolerance for companies not meeting (or even providing) earnings guidance.

Go deeper

Small business struggles

Illustration: Trent Joaquin/Axios

Small businesses aren’t thriving quite like their large corporate counterparts.

Why it matters: It's a signal of the bifurcated pandemic recovery, in which the biggest U.S. companies have reported record earnings growth as they leveraged higher wages to help recruitment and used their scale to make cost cuts.

Updated 8 hours ago - World

UK government: Kremlin has plan "to install pro-Russian leadership" in Ukraine

British Foreign Secretary Elizabeth Truss. Photo: Gints Ivuskans / AFP via Getty Images

The United Kingdom's Foreign Secretary on Saturday night said the government has "information that indicates the Russian Government is looking to install a pro-Russian leader in Kyiv as it considers whether to invade and occupy Ukraine."

Driving the news: U.S. National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horne called the intelligence "deeply concerning" in a statement to Axios. The Biden administration has said Russia is actively manufacturing a pretext for invasion and warned that Putin could use joint military exercises in Belarus as cover to invade from the north.

Updated 10 hours ago - Science

This powerful new accelerator looks for keys to the center of atoms

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Nuclear physicists trying to piece together how atoms are built are about to get a powerful new tool.

Why it matters: When the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams begins experiments later this spring, physicists from around the world will use the particle accelerator to better understand the inner workings of atoms that make up all the matter that can be seen in the universe.

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