U.S. Investors Gloomy, But Obama Provides Some Cheer

Wall Street Trader

U.S. investors remained pessimistic in January about the economic outlook for the next 12 months, but the change in administration lifted spirits somewhat, a Gallup survey showed Monday.

Gallup's Index of Investor Optimism was at -40, recovering from a record low of -49 in December. The economic dimension of the index, which is a gauge of investors' sentiment about the next 12 months, was at -59, versus December's -64.

Gallup attributed the modest improvement to the change in government following last week's historic inauguration of Barack Obama as president, taking over from George W. Bush.

"Given the country's dreadful economic performance during the last year of the Bush economic team, it is not hard to see how a change in teams—could inspire at least a marginal improvement in investor and consumer confidence," said Gallup chief economist Dennis Jacobe.

Obama is seeking support for an $825 billion spending package that he hopes will revive the economy, which has been in recession since December 2007, and create or preserve 3 million to 4 million jobs.

Gallup's index of investor optimism is based on a survey of people with $10,000 or more of investable assets. It is designed to reflect American investors' views of the investment climate.

The survey was conducted between Jan. 16 and Jan. 18. The Index peaked in January 2000 at 178, prior to the dot-com burst.