By BridgeNews Fund managers around the world have become increasingly pessimistic about the world economic outlook, and are shifting their funds away from the "new economy" technology, media, and telecommunications stocks and into more traditional sectors, the latest survey by the Gallup Organization for Merrill Lynch & Co. showed. The October survey revealed economic optimism was low or had fallen in every major region, and that few fund managers expect interest rates to rise further. The survey showed only 13% of U.S. and Pacific Basin fund managers, and 14% of UK fund managers, expected a stronger domestic economy on a 12-month view. It was only in Japan and South Africa that the majority, 95% and 66% respectively, of fund managers predicted their economies would strengthen. In spite of the mounting pessimism, however, the survey showed the majority of fund managers were not yet planning to get out of equities and into cash and bonds, but that they were moving towards more defensive equity investments. On a 12-month view, equities were the most popular asset class in every region. Also on a 12-month view, banks were fund managers favorite sector globally, pushing technology down into second place, the survey revealed. Two traditionally defensive sectors, pharmaceuticals and insurance, both saw their support among fund managers pick-up quite sharply in October compared with September, while the popularity of media stocks declined.