BOSTON, July 1, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Retirement investment vehicles continue to be regarded positively by investors, with eight in ten saying now is a good time to invest in 401(k) plans and IRAs, according to the second quarter 2014 John Hancock Investor Sentiment Survey. More than half of investors polled say they believe it is also a good time to invest in 529 College Savings Plans. Optimism holds steady as well for Target Risk/Lifestyle Funds and for Target Date Funds (with 37 percent of investors saying it is a good or very good time for both).
The John Hancock Investor Sentiment Index® remained at its level of the past three quarters, holding steady at +23, essentially unchanged from the past two quarters. The Index score is largely due to investors' positive attitude toward investing in stocks. The percentage favoring equities remains high overall, yet has declined compared to the same period last year: 57 percent now versus 62 percent in Q2 2013.
Investors retain stable views toward balanced mutual funds (57 percent) and stock mutual funds (55 percent). Fewer are enthusiastic about real estate investments, with 57 percent thinking now is a good time to invest in real estate compared with 62 percent in the second quarter of 2013.
"John Hancock's survey indicates that the great recession continues to recede in the consciousness of investors, with half reporting they are in a better financial position now compared with two years ago, and half expecting their situation will improve in the years ahead, and these levels have remained unchanged for the past two quarters," Mathew Greenwald, President & CEO of Greenwald & Associates, the Washington, DC-based market research firm conducting the survey. "That said, investors remain concerned about political gridlock in Washington (56 percent) and the high level of US national debt (46 percent)."Investors believe blue-chip stocks are the investment type with the most potential (24 percent), and energy, healthcare and technology companies will be the best-performing sectors in the near term. China is the country investors believe will have the fastest economic growth in the next two years (32 percent). India and the United States take the next two spots, with 14 percent and 11 percent respectively saying these countries will experience the highest growth rates. A majority view real estate (88 percent), stock mutual funds (82 percent), fixed income mutual funds (72 percent) and individual stocks (71 percent) as long-term investments. In the short-term investment column, 44 percent include foreign currency, and a quarter view precious metals and derivatives as more speculative investments. Twenty-two percent regard ETFs are short-term investments.