BOSTON, April 4, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Investor sentiment declined in the first quarter of 2016, for the third consecutive quarter, and reached its lowest point since the third quarter of 2013, according to the John Hancock Investor Sentiment Survey. The John Hancock Investor Sentiment Index score for the first quarter of the year is +19, a three point drop from the fourth quarter of 2015.
The John Hancock Investor Sentiment Index reflects the percentage of investors who say they believe it is a "good" or "very good" time to invest, minus those who feel the opposite.
Positive attitudes toward investing in equities, through stock and balanced mutual funds, declined significantly. More investors said they are inclined to hold on to cash compared with previous quarters, rather than putting it to work in the market.
"The downturn in sentiment recently is likely a reflection of the volatile track record of the stock market since the beginning of the year as well as the crash in oil prices in mid-February, which took place while the survey was underway," says Frances Donald, economist with John Hancock.
Overall, 75 percent of investors remain optimistic about the growth of the U.S. economy in the near future, but half (49 percent) believe that 2016 will not be a positive year for the average investor. Blue chip stocks led among market segments in terms of performing well over the next six months, with 17 percent of investors choosing them, though investors have less conviction compared with the first quarter of 2015 when 24 percent chose them.
The cost of healthcare continues to lead among investors' worries, with 56 percent expressing great concern about this issue. A majority (51 percent) also are very concerned about political gridlock in Washington.
Regarding personal financial priorities, among those surveyed who are working, 33 percent said saving for retirement is their main goal. Among retirees, maintaining their current lifestyle ranks as their chief priority (65 percent). Overall, 14 percent say that paying down debt remains a top financial priority.
More investors (18 percent) claim to be in a worse position, financially, than they were two years ago. This is up significantly from the first quarter of 2015, when 12 percent said they were in a worse financial position.
About the John Hancock Investor Sentiment Survey
John Hancock's Investor Sentiment Survey is a quarterly poll of affluent investors. The survey measures investors' feelings about the current economic climate and their evaluations of what represents a good or bad investment given the current environment. The poll also asks consumers about their confidence in reaching key financial goals and their attitudes toward specific financial products and services. This online survey was conducted by independent research firm Greenwald & Associates. A total of 1,008 investors were surveyed from February 8th to February 19th, 2016. Respondents were selected from among members of Research Now's online research panel. To qualify, respondents were required to participate at least to some extent in their household's financial decision-making process, have a household income of at least $75,000, and assets of $100,000 or more. Demographic information and other respondent characteristics are available upon request. The data were weighted by age and education to reflect the population of Americans matching the survey's qualification requirements. In a similarly-sized random sample survey, the margin of error would be plus or minus 3.15 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level. Due to rounding and missing categories, numbers presented may not always total to 100 percent.
About John Hancock Financial and Manulife
John Hancock Financial is a division of Manulife, a leading Canada-based financial services group with principal operations in Asia, Canada and the United States. Operating as Manulife in Canada and Asia, and primarily as John Hancock in the United States, our group of companies offers clients a diverse range of financial protection products and wealth management services through its extensive network of employees, agents and distribution partners. Assets under management and administration by Manulife and its subsidiaries were $935 billion (US $676 billion) as at December 31, 2015. Manulife Financial Corporation trades as 'MFC' on the TSX, NYSE and PSE, and under '945' on the SEHK. Manulife can be found on the Internet at manulife.com.
The John Hancock unit, through its insurance companies, comprises one of the largest life insurers in the United States. John Hancock offers and administers a broad range of financial products, including life insurance, annuities, investments, 401(k) plans, long-term care insurance, college savings, and other forms of business insurance. Additional information about John Hancock may be found at johnhancock.com.
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SOURCE John Hancock Financial