BOSTON, April 4, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- The John Hancock Investor Sentiment Index® continued its upward trend of the past two quarters, increasing to +23 in the first quarter of 2014 from +22 in the fourth quarter of last year. Also remaining stable is an optimistic financial outlook. Half of investors feel they are in a better financial position today versus two years ago, and 49 percent expect their position will improve two years hence. Moreover, nearly three quarters of those surveyed believe that 2014 will be a positive year for the average US investor.
Investors remain positive about investing in stocks, with 61 percent saying it is a good or very good time to invest, and in stock mutual funds (56 percent said the same). Bonds and cash continue to be unpopular vehicles, with respectively 36 percent and 61 percent saying it is a bad or very bad time to invest in those.
Retirement investment vehicles are regarded positively by investors, with four out of five saying now is a good time to be putting money in to 401(k) plans (79 percent) and IRAs (77 percent). Half of investors say it is a good time to fund 529 College Savings plans. Optimism has held steady for Target Risk/Lifestyle Funds and for Target Date Funds (with 40 percent of investors saying it is a good or very good time for both).
"A majority of investors believe now is a good time to purchase a home (73 percent), while others say it is a good time to spend money on a big ticket purchase (44 percent), sell a home (42 percent), or spend money on travel or vacations (41 percent)," noted Bill Cheney, John Hancock's Chief Economist."Yet while overall investor sentiment has stayed positive, 21 percent of those we surveyed are very concerned about inflation," he added. "Other top concerns are political gridlock in Washington, DC, with 55 percent citing this as something they are worried about, and the level of the national debt (45 percent), and half are very concerned about the cost of healthcare." In assessing the outlook for the capital markets, investors pick blue chip stocks to perform the best in the next six months (27 percent), followed by small cap stocks (17 percent) and emerging markets investments (11 percent). In the survey, investors think the technology sector (56 percent), healthcare (48 percent) or energy (46 percent) are the most likely to provide the best investment opportunity in the next six months.
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