Strategic Briefing | 3.9.2011 | Sentiment Surveys

CR Index: At last, consumers’ financial lives improve
Consumer Reports | March 8, 2011
Despite international unrest and escalating energy prices, the March Consumer Reports Index reveals its most positive results in two years. A major decline in consumer financial troubles and positive sentiment provide some encouraging news for the American consumer. The Consumer Sentiment Index has broken into positive territory at 50.3, which is up from 48.7 a month ago. The Consumer Reports Sentiment Index captures respondents’ attitudes regarding their financial situation, asking them if they are feeling better or worse off than a year ago. When the index is greater than 50, more consumers are feeling positive about their situation. This is the first time sentiment has been in positive territory since it was first measured in October, 2008.

U.S. Economic Optimism Declines in February
Gallup | March 8, 2011
Gallup’s Economic Confidence Index worsened to -24 in February from -21 the prior month as Americans’ optimism about the U.S. economy receded from a three-year high reached in January. Gallup’s Economic Confidence Index is based on two questions. One measures consumers’ perceptions of current economic conditions and shows them to be the same in February as in January, with 42% of Americans rating current economic conditions “poor.” The second Index component asks Americans to rate the outlook for the U.S. economy. In February, 38% said economic conditions are “getting better,” down from 41% a month earlier. However, this decline follows a January optimism level that tied for the highest since Gallup Daily tracking began in January 2008.
Independent Investment Advisor Optimism Sharply on the Rise According to Latest Schwab Survey
Charles Schwab Corp | March 7, 2011
Independent registered investment advisor (RIA) optimism has risen significantly since July 2010 according to Charles Schwab’s latest survey of more than 1,300 RIAs representing $284 billion in assets under management. More than three-quarters of advisors surveyed (77%) expect the S&P 500 to rise in the next six months, up from 63 percent in the previous survey in July. Reflecting this growing optimism, more than half of advisors (56%) classify themselves as “bulls,” while only 10 percent see themselves as “bears” when it comes to stock market performance over the next six months.
AARP Survey: Half of 50+ African Americans in NY Will Delay Retirement If Economy Doesn’t Improve
NY AARP | March 8, 2011
A new AARP survey of New Yorkers age 50 and older, which takes a special look at how African Americans view their financial security and retirement, finds that 49 percent would delay retirement if the economy does not improve. Of those who planned to delay retirement, 41 percent said they would delay retirement for five or more years and 13 percent expect never to retire.
AICPA/UNC Quarterly Economic Outlook Survey
American Institute of CPAs | March 3, 2011
This quarter’s 20% increase in optimism for the US economy was the sharpest upturn ever seen on the survey. It was accompanied by an 11% decrease in pessimism with less than a quarter of respondents (18%) expressing a pessimistic outlook for the US economy. Optimism was driven primarily by signs of improvement in broad based economic indicators, increased customer spending and an improving outlook on employment. Pessimists were most likely to cite continuing unemployment, housing and growing government debt and deficits as reasons for their pessimism. Optimism for organizations continued to lead optimism for the US economy as a whole with 57% of the CPA decision-makers saying that they were optimistic about the outlooks for their own organizations. This is the highest point since 4Q07. This outlook was backed by expectations of expansion with 66% of respondents expecting their organizations to expand in the next 12 months and only 13% expecting to contract.
Investor Sentiment Survey
American Association of Individual Investors | March 2, 2011
The AAII Investor Sentiment Survey measures the percentage of individual investors who are bullish, bearish, and neutral on the stock market for the next six months; individuals are polled from the ranks of the AAII membership on a weekly basis. Only one vote per member is accepted in each weekly voting period.
Week ending 3/2/2011
Data represents what direction members feel the stock market will be in the next 6 months.
For week ending March 2:
Bullish: 36.8%
Neutral: 30.0%
Bearish: 33.2%
Change from last week:
Bullish: +0.2
Neutral: +2.7
Bearish: -3.0
Long-Term Average:
Bullish: 39%
Neutral: 31%
Bearish: 30%
The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index Improves Further
Conference Board | Feb 22, 2011
The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index®, which had increased in January, improved further in February. The Index now stands at 70.4 (1985=100), up from 64.8 in January. The Present Situation Index improved to 33.4 from 31.1. The Expectations Index increased to 95.1 from 87.3 last month… Says Lynn Franco, Director of The Conference Board Consumer Research Center: “The Consumer Confidence Index is now at a three-year high (Feb. 2008, 76.4), due to growing optimism about the short-term future. Consumers’ assessment of current business and labor market conditions has improved moderately, but still remains rather weak. Looking ahead, consumers are more positive about the economy and their income prospects, but feel somewhat mixed about employment conditions.”