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.
About the John Hancock Investor Sentiment SurveyJohn Hancock's Investor Sentiment Survey is a quarterly poll of affluent investors. The survey measures investors' feelings about the current economic climate and their evaluations of what represents a good or bad investment given the current environment. The poll also asks consumers about their confidence in reaching key financial goals and their attitudes toward specific financial products and services. This online survey was conducted by independent research firm Greenwald & Associates. A total of 1,107 investors were surveyed from May 12th to May 23rd, 2014. To qualify, respondents were required to participate at least to some extent in their household's financial decision-making process, have a household income of at least $75,000, and assets of $100,000 or more. The data were weighted by age and education to reflect the population of Americans matching the survey's qualification requirements. In a similarly-sized random sample survey, the margin of error would be plus or minus 3.01 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level. Due to rounding and missing categories, numbers presented may not always total to 100 percent. About John Hancock Financial and Manulife John Hancock Financial is a division of Manulife, a leading Canada-based financial services group with principal operations in Asia, Canada and the United States. Operating as Manulife in Canada and Asia, and primarily as John Hancock in the United States, our group of companies offers clients a diverse range of financial protection products and wealth management services through its extensive network of employees, agents and distribution partners. Funds under management by Manulife and its subsidiaries were C$635 billion ( US$574 billion) as at March 31, 2014. Manulife Financial Corporation trades as 'MFC' on the TSX, NYSE and PSE, and under '945' on the SEHK. Manulife can be found on the Internet at manulife.com. The John Hancock unit, through its insurance companies, comprises one of the largest life insurers in the United States. John Hancock offers and administers a broad range of financial products, including life insurance, annuities, investments, 401(k) plans, long-term care insurance, college savings, and other forms of business insurance. Additional information about John Hancock may be found at johnhancock.com. Photo - http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20140630/123341 SOURCE John Hancock Financial