Markets

Young retail investors plan to spend almost half of their stimulus checks on stocks, Deutsche survey claims

Key Points
  • An online survey of 430 investors who use online broker platforms found that half of respondents between 25 and 34 years old plan to spend 50% of their stimulus payments on stocks.
  • Meanwhile, 18- to 24-year-old retail investors involved in the survey planned to use 40% of any stimulus checks on stocks.
  • And 35- to 54-year-old retail investors surveyed planned to use 37% of their checks on stock market investment.

In this article

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A survey from Deutsche Bank may give an inkling of how much cash from U.S. stimulus checks will find its way into the stock market.

An online survey of 430 investors who use online broker platforms found that half of respondents between 25 and 34 years old plan to spend 50% of their stimulus payments on stocks.

That led the German investment bank to state that "a large amount of the upcoming U.S. stimulus checks will probably find their way into equities," though Deutsche Bank acknowledged elsewhere in the report that, unlike the respondents the bank surveyed, most American recipients of stimulus checks do not have trading accounts.

Meanwhile, 18- to 24-year-olds involved in the survey planned to use 40% of any stimulus checks on stocks, and 35- to 54-year-olds surveyed planned to use 37% of their checks on equity market investment. The over-55s surveyed said they'd put only 16% into stocks.

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The online survey, led by Deutsche strategist Parag Thatte and published late last month, found that respondents plan to put a large chunk (37%) of any forthcoming stimulus directly into stocks, which could represent a sizable inflow into the market of $170 billion.

The overall sample had nearly equal representation of those under 34 (41%) and 34-54 (37%) and a somewhat smaller share of those over 55 years of age, Deutsche Bank noted. In terms of income distribution, the biggest group was in the $50,000 to $100,000 range (34%), which aligns with the U.S. median income of around $69,000. Most respondents were either employed full time (59%) or retired (12%).

Previous payments

The survey found that previous stimulus payments, handed out in recent months in a bid to jump-start the U.S. economy in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, "were widely reported as being used for investing in stocks."

A vast majority (72%) of the respondents reported getting a stimulus check and more than half (53%) said they invested some of the stimulus money in the stock market. Younger people were much more likely to have invested in stocks using the payments, the research said.

While the analysts noted that these checks were still a small proportion of the overall funds invested in the market, they predicted a change with the next batch of payments. "Going forward however, survey respondents plan to put a large chunk (37%) of any forthcoming stimulus checks directly into equities, which could represent a sizable inflow," the bank said.

'Aggressive cohort'

New retail investors are seen as a key driver of a rally in the U.S. stock market over the past year, described by strategists as the 2020 "retail wave." The survey found that more than half of all respondents raised their investments in stocks over the past year, with just under half (45%) investing for the very first time.

"Behind the recent surge in retail investing is a younger, often new-to-investing, and aggressive cohort not afraid to employ leverage," Deutsche Bank strategists Jim Reid and research associate Raj Bhattacharyya said in a report last week that built upon the survey's results.

"Given stimulus checks are currently penciled in at circa $405 billion in Biden's plan (before Senate revisions), that gives us a maximum of around $150 billion that could go into U.S. equities based on our survey," although they noted that only a small proportion of stimulus check recipients have trading accounts.

"If we estimate this at around 20% (based on some historical assumptions), that would still provide around circa $30 billion of firepower — and that's before we talk about any possible boosts to 401k plans outside of trading accounts."

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International markets will be keeping a keen eye on the progress of the Covid relief bill in the coming days. The Senate passed the $1.9 trillion economic relief and stimulus bill on Saturday, paving the way for extensions to unemployment benefits, another round of stimulus checks, and aid to state and local governments.

The legislation includes direct payments of up to $1,400 to most Americans, a $300 weekly boost to jobless benefits into September and an expansion of the child tax credit for one year. The Democrat-controlled House will pass the bill later this week and President Joe Biden is expected to sign it into law before unemployment aid programs expire March 14.

The retail investment theme has also been seen as a reason behind the recent volatility of some under-loved stocks in the U.S. Some investors have used the social media platform Reddit to coordinate trades in certain names, pushing up the prices of those firms which has led to big losses for some hedge funds that had bet against them.

— CNBC's Jacob Pramuk contributed reporting to this story.

— Correction: This story has been updated to make clear that the young respondents to the survey were all users of online broker platforms and therefore not representative of the young U.S. population more broadly.