Wealthy Are Optimistic, Like U.S. Stocks Right Now

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- For the 88 million U.S. workers identified by the American Benefits Council as having a 401(k) plan, making investment choices isn't easy.

So why not turn to a demographic that has demonstrated it knows how to make money in the financial markets and see what they think about investing, money and the economy?

Legg Mason surveyed 500 affluent U.S. investors last week and found a generally sunny outlook, with 86% of respondents saying they are "optimistic" about their investment portfolios and 74% saying the stock market is the best place to build wealth over the next year.

Here's how the wealthy rank the top-performing financial markets right now: U.S. stocks (74%); international stocks (53%); real estate (53%); gold/metals (33%); U.S. bonds (31%); cash (28%); alternative investments (24%); and global bonds (19%).

For 401(k) investors, where the wealthy prioritize their investment savings is what really counts. Legg Mason reports the following asset allocation breakdown among affluent Americans: stocks (41%); cash (22%); fixed-income (20%); real estate (6%); alternatives (4%); and other (7%).

Both rankings show wealthy Americans growing bullish on stocks.

"There is a promising amount of optimism among U.S. investors, and much of it is focusing on U.S. equities," says Matthew Schiffman, a managing director at Legg Mason. "This is consistent with our global research conclusions and bodes very well for the U.S. equity markets should investor optimism ring true."

Surprisingly, cash remains a strong option, even as banks continue to offer paltry return rates on savings vehicles such as certificates of deposit and money market accounts.

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