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Millionaires grew bullish just before market swoon

Millionaires may be richer—but they aren't any better at predicting stock market moves than the rest of the population.

The latest Millionaire Investor Confidence Survey, from Spectrem Group, shows that millionaires became more bullish on the economy and markets just before stocks fell into correction territory in late August.

Wealth wealthy
Ezra Bailey | Getty Images

According to the survey, which was conducted between Aug. 14 and Aug. 20, millionaire confidence during the month rose to its highest level in 11 months, and well into "mildly bullish" territory.

Granted, millionaires were showing some signs of anxiety about overseas weakness. When asked what news story was most dampening their economic outlooks, the largest number—37 percent—cited "international problems," mainly over the Greek crisis.

The political environment ranked second, followed by interest rate increases.

Yet millionaires were growing more confident in stocks in the days leading up to the plunge. The number of millionaires who intended to invest in equities rose to a near two-year high, and those putting money into stock mutual funds rose to a four-month high.

Meanwhile, the number of millionaires who said they would stay on the sidelines in the coming months fell to a near two-year low.

The results show one of two things: Either the wealthy think this correction will be short-lived, or they were caught off guard by the recent market plunge.

"No one can really predict what the market is going to do going forward," said George Walper, president of Spectrem Group. "Wealthy investors focus on what information is in the media. And heading into this, there just wasn't much of a focus on the China story."

Walper said he suspects millionaire investors will become more negative on the markets in the coming weeks—and that the sentiment may last well beyond any partial stock recovery.

"The thing we've learned about these investors is that they react quickly, but those negative concerns will continue for awhile going forward," he said.