U.S. consumers see a better-than-even chance their stock portfolios will lose value this year, and their outlook for equities is the weakest in five years, a survey said Friday.
While uncertainty about the outlook for stocks dominated all income groups, the view was dimmest among Americans with the smallest stock investments, according to the most recent Reuters/University of Michigan surveys of consumers.
Consumers thought there was just a 43 percent chance that a diversified stock fund would increase, according to the random nationwide telephone survey of 1,000 Americans conducted in April and May.
It was the lowest perceived probability since 2003 and down from 54 percent in the second quarter of 2007.
Among households with the largest stock portfolios -- totaling more than $150,000 -- the probability of gains fell to 51 percent, down from a peak of 66 percent at the start of 2007.
Among stock owners with the smallest portfolios -- under $40,000 -- the probability fell to 44 percent from 57 percent.
U.S. stocks have suffered in 2008 from fallout from the global credit crisis, a deep economic slowdown and the rising price of oil.
So far this year, the Standard & Poor's 500 Index has fallen 5.6 percent, the Dow Jones industrial average has shed 6.6 percent and the Nasdaq Composite Index is down 5.1 percent.
Nearly two-thirds of U.S. households own stock.
The median value of stock holdings ranged from $14,936 for the bottom third of stock owners to $304,685 among the top third of stock owners.