Investor confidence holds at 17-year high despite sell-off

  • Investor confidence is at a 17-month high, according to a survey from Wells Fargo and Gallup.
  • Results showed that 60 percent of respondents are optimistic about the next 12 months, while fewer than 25 percent say they are pessimistic.
  • Confidence held steady even though the survey was taken during the correction that gripped the market in February.

Market turmoil that began in February did little to disturb investor sentiment, which remained at a 17-year high, according to a survey by Wells Fargo and Gallup.

Investors remained upbeat about the market, as well as the economy generally and the employment picture more specifically, according to the Wells Fargo/Gallup Investor and Retirement Optimism Index.

The first-quarter gauge, taken from surveys conducted Feb. 2-25, remained around where it was during the previous two quarters. The sample period includes the early February correction prompted by inflation fears and the prospect of an unexpected jump in interest rates.

The index level was 139, up more than 10 percent from a year ago. The survey began in 1996 with a baseline reading of 124.

"Over the course of this bull market since the recession, there have been periods of volatility. But people seem to brush it off and stay the course, knowing it will help them in the long run in retirement," Joe Ready, head of Wells Fargo Institutional Retirement and Trust, said in a statement.

Survey results showed that 60 percent of respondents are "somewhat optimistic" about the next 12 months, while fewer than 25 percent say they are "at least somewhat pessimistic."

Asked about the heavy bouts of volatility experienced around that time, 52 percent said they either were "not too concerned" or "not at all concerned" with the violent market moves. Some 45 percent say they were "very" or "somewhat" concerned, but that was well below the 53 percent who reported feeling the same way after a volatility bout in 2015 and 64 percent in 2016.

More than half the respondents, or 53 percent, said they could handle a 10 percent correction on a $10,000 investment.

"Taken together, these and other findings from the survey show many investors are optimistic about the future, yet realistic about any near-term challenges they may face in the current economic environment," Ready said.

The survey came from 1,321 respondents and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.