Investors in the world’s largest economies are upbeat about their financial futures, according to new research.

This is among the key findings of second quarter investor sentiment surveys conducted by John Hancock Financial and the company’s parent, Manulife Financial Corp. Two surveys polled 5,500 investors in Asia, the United States and Canada about their financial priorities, progress towards financial goals and whether they expect their personal financial position to improve over the next two years.

The survey respondents were asked to rate each of six investment categories on a five-point scale, indicating whether they think it is a very good time to invest, a good time, neither a good nor a bad time, a bad time or a very bad time. 

The second Manulife Investor Sentiment Survey in Asia produced an index score of +21. In Canada , the index score was +35. In the U.S., the score was +26.

“The surveys clearly indicate that investor sentiment is improving markedly,” said Manulife President and CEO Donald Guloien in a prepared statement. “Survey data from three of the largest economies in the world—the United States, China and Japan—as well as Canada and other nations indicate a very positive turn in outlook.”

In Asia, key drivers of the index were positive views of stocks (+15), mutual funds/unit trusts (+14) and real estate (+19). Sentiment was highest in Indonesia (with an individual index score of +60) and Malaysia (+48). The largest rise in sentiment occurred in Japan (from +4 to +21). Only one market, Hong Kong, strayed into negative sentiment (-11).

In Canada , the index score was driven by investors’ optimistic views on investing in their own homes (+70), balanced mutual funds (+47) and stocks (+32). Canadians also believe it is a good time to invest in real estate (+34).

In the U.S., the index score was driven by investors’ positive attitudes toward investing in their own homes (+62), stocks (+54), real estate (+53) and balanced mutual funds (+51).

 •     Top financial priority. Saving for retirement ranked as the top financial priority for investors in Asia (21 percent) and Canada (22 percent). In the U.S., this was the second top financial priority (23 percent), following maintaining one’s current lifestyle (30 percent).

•      Reaching financial goals. At least half of investors in all three regions said they are on track to achieve their financial goals (Asia 50 percent, Canada 61 percent, U.S. 60 percent). In Asia, investors in Malaysia (62 percent) and China (64 percent) were the most on track. Similar proportions of investors across all three regions reported being ahead of plans (Asia eight percent, Canada 12 percent, U.S. 10 percent).

      Present and future financial position. While 46 percent of Asia investors believe they are in a better financial position today than they were two years ago, a higher numbers of Canadians (56 percent) and Americans (53 percent) share that sentiment. Looking two years ahead, 57 percent of Asian investors, 61 percent of Canadians, and 49 percent of Americans think they will be in an improved financial position.