Confidence in stocks declines amid virus concerns

BOSTON (dpa-AFX) – With concerns about the new type of corona virus, according to a March survey, equity investors have globally become more pessimistic. The global investor confidence index (ICI) calculated monthly by financial services provider State Street fell from 78.5 points adjusted in February to 74.5 points.

North America’s ICI index fell 2.9 points to 67.8 points and Europe’s from 110.6 to 95.6 points. According to State Street, the regional barometer for Asia rose 8.7 points to 94.5 points.

“Concerns over Covid-19 have moved from China to Europe and the investor confidence index reflects that,” said Lee Ferridge, head of multi-asset strategy for the Americas at State Street Global Markets. The rapid increase in the number of cases in Europe is said to have pushed mood below the neutral 100 point line for the first time since August, by 15 points.

Sentiment in North America worsened from already low levels, the study found, and approached all-time lows as investors waited to see how comprehensive fiscal and monetary policy measures would be. However, as the number of current cases in China declined, investor sentiment in Asia even improved in March, which more than offset February’s drop.

The Investor Confidence Index quantitatively measures investor confidence or risk tolerance by examining the actual buying and selling behavior of institutional investors. The index assigns precise meaning to changes in investors’ risk appetite: the higher the percentage allocation between individual securities, the greater the risk appetite or confidence. A value of 100 is neutral; it is the level at which investors do not increase or decrease their long-term exposure to high-risk assets.

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