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Retail Investors Still Bullish, for Now

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E-Trade Financial’s new quarterly tracking study of experienced investors, released Friday, finds experienced investors divided over market direction, but generally in agreement on where opportunities lie.

The online survey was conducted in early April among 1,002 self-directed active U.S. investors who manage at least $10,000 in an online brokerage account. Two-thirds of the participants were men, and one-third women.

The E-Trade poll found that 37% of investors thought the market would stay where it was for the next three months, up six percentage points from last quarterly survey, while 34% expected a correction and 29% predicted that the market would continue to rise.

In addition, the gap in investor sentiment narrowed by seven percentage points in the current quarter to 59% bullish versus 41% bearish.

“After six years of a bull market and U.S. market indices at all-time highs, it’s natural for investors to differ in their opinions on what will happen next,” said George Fischer, senior vice president for trading, margin lending and cash management at E-Trade, said in a statement.

 “While investors seem cautiously optimistic about the short term, the complex and evolving macroeconomic events happening domestically and abroad will further shape this debate.”

Sixty-five percent of survey participants named stocks as their favorite asset class, followed by 57% who preferred equity mutual funds and 46% who chose exchange-traded funds.

Health care and information technology were investors’ choice sectors, with 64% expressing interest in the former and 50% in the latter.

The poll also showed that investors continued to see opportunity in international investments across regions and asset classes.

Fischer offered investors these observations:

  • Maintaining a diverse portfolio across asset classes and sectors can help reduce risk during periods of market uncertainty
  • Although a strong U.S. dollar can produce positive results when investing abroad, subsequent currency fluctuations can also affect returns, sometimes negatively
  • Stock, ETF and mutual fund screeners can help investors narrow down investment opportunities by offering analysis techniques and filters, including fundamental and technical indicators.

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