Bank of America Merrill Lynch strategist

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Now is the time to buy risk assets, a Bank of America Merrill Lynch strategist told CNBC on Tuesday.

“When investors are this bearish, historically, it’s been a great time to buy risky assets like stocks and commodities,” BofAML global investment strategist Jared Woodard said on “Closing Bell. “

Woodard stressed he was looking at a one-to-three-month investment timeline, citing larger macro risks in the economy for next year.

But with investors already in bearish positions and favorable policy coming from the Federal Reserve, which cut interest rates in July for the first time in a decade and is expected to issue another quarter-point cut at its September policy meeting, Woodard said he sees significant short-term upside.

“Historically, you’ve had significant upside in the short term, on average around 6% returns on global equities on a three-month horizon, when sentiment is this bearish,” Woodard said.

All three major indexes fell Tuesday on the first day of September trading. Both China and the U.S. put in place new tariffs on imports Sunday, marking the latest escalation in the ongoing trade war. Investor sentiment also was weakened by the news that U.S. manufacturing contracted for the first time in three years.

But Woodard’s call for investors to buy riskier assets emanates from BofAML’s Bull & Bear Indicator reaching its lowest levels since January. The sentiment indicator dropped from 2.4 to 1.3 last week, flashing a contrarian buy signal.

The indicator is based on a 10-point scale and takes into account 18 different inputs, such as fund flows, price action and asset allocation from large and small investors, Woodard said.

The bank said in a research note Friday that the drop was caused by outflows in emerging market debt and equities, in addition to a quick uptick in Treasury markets.

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