Although consumer confidence tumbled in December due to fears of the "fiscal cliff'" average investors aren't expressing such concerns.
Indeed, they're more optimistic about stocks than they've been in nine months. A weekly survey of investor sentiment has risen in sync with the market since the middle of last month. Even so, rising investor optimism hasn't prompted many to put their money back into stock mutual funds.
Consider that 44 percent of investors said they're optimistic about the outlook for stocks over the next six months in the Dec. 26 survey by the American Association of Individual Investors. Sentiment has become more positive since mid-November when just 29 percent were bullish. Investors hoped that lawmakers could avert the tax increases and spending cuts set to begin Jan. 1.
Yet with no cliff deal in sight, optimism may be wearing thin. Stocks have fallen for four days in a row. The Standard & Poor's 500 index has slipped 2 percent since Dec. 18.
"If investors wait too long for the comfort of the crowd to increase their tolerance for risk and invest in stocks, they may pay dearly," says Bob Turner, chief investment officer of Turner Investments.Associated Press