Seven in 10 investors and business owners in 14 markets said they were optimistic about their region’s long-term economic outlook even as their short-term confidence dipped sharply because of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a first-quarter investor sentiment survey released this week by UBS.
Investors’ long-term optimism was virtually unchanged from the fourth quarter, UBS reported.
Only 46% of respondents expressed optimism on the short-term outlook, down from 67% last quarter. Short-term optimism fell most sharply in the U.S., from 68% to 30%, and least sharply in Europe outside Switzerland, from 58% to 50%.
In Asia, it fell from 71% to 55%; in Latin America, from 60% to 49%; and in Switzerland, from 47% to 28%.
The survey found that 47% of investors across the globe expected to leave their stock market investments unchanged in the next six months, while 37% planned to invest more. In addition, 23% said now was a good time to buy stocks, and another 61% said an opportunity to buy would arise if stocks should fall another 5% to 20%.
Sixty-one percent of business owners in the survey said they were optimistic about their businesses, down from 73% in the fourth-quarter survey. Twenty-seven percent planned to hire more workers, while 17% planned to downsize.
The gap between those planning to hire and those planning to downsize was biggest in Latin America, at 22 percentage points, and lowest in Switzerland, at two percentage points.
Fifty-seven percent of investors and 60% of business owners cited COVID-19 as their top concern.
“Ninety-six percent of investors worldwide say COVID-19 has affected their lifestyle,” Paula Polito, divisional vice chairman at UBS Global Wealth Management, said in a statement. “Most are practicing social distancing, avoiding crowds, and refraining from travel.