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Portfolio > ETFs > Broad Market

Client Outlook for the Stock Market Shifts to Bearish: Schwab

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Retail investors are shifting from bullish to bearish, according to a recent survey from Charles Schwab.

Charles Schwab recently surveyed about 850 of its retail clients about how they’re feeling about the markets and their personal finances for the Q4 2018 Charles Schwab Retail Investor Sentiment Report.

According to the survey, the client outlook for the U.S. stock market is shifting with 52% feeling bearish, compared with 41% a year ago.

The proportion of Schwab clients who think it is a “good time to invest” declined to the lowest level since December 2015.

The survey found that the leading concern about investing is the U.S. political landscape; however, clients are divided about how the new makeup of Congress will impact their investment strategy. Of those surveyed, 39% think the new Congress will have some kind of impact, while 42% think it will not.

Other worries clients have about investing include an extended market downturn and uncertainty due to market volatility.

The majority of clients believe the next economic downturn will occur in the next few years. Of those surveyed, 30% think a downturn will happen in the next year and another 35% think an economic downturn will happen in two to three years.

According to Joe Vietri, Charles Schwab branch network leader, “increasing market volatility and drama in our political landscape have been catalysts for a downshift in client sentiment from bullish to bearish.”

But, Vietri added that there’s “hope on the horizon as many investors tell us they plan to review their financial plan this quarter.”

“That’s always an important step but particularly so in an environment like this,” Vietri said in a statement.

In its survey, Schwab asked clients what actions they anticipated making in the next three months, and the top answer was “review my existing financial plan,” with 35% saying they plan to do this. Clients also plan to add money into their investment portfolios (with 33% saying they plan to take this action), and they also plan to save more money (with 31% saying this).

The survey also found that — compared with earlier in 2018 — more clients indicate moving money into cash. According to the survey, 18% of the clients surveyed indicated that in the past three months they moved money into cash. This is up from the 14% in the second quarter of 2018 that said the same thing.

Overall, clients’ top three personal finance concerns for 2019 are saving for retirement followed by tax laws and health insurance costs.

Among retired clients, though, the top personal finance concern is understanding how the new tax laws apply to them.

The survey also found that client confidence in reaching their financial goals remains steady overall. However, among retirees, it has declined — about a third of retired Schwab clients say they are extremely/very confident in reaching their goals, compared to almost half a year ago.


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