UK retail investors have shifted their preferences from equities to cash, according to i-Sight Investor Attitudinal Barometer for the first half of this year.

Core Data Research’s latest findings suggest that even though equities still have a relatively high standing compared to other asset classes, interest in both domestic and overseas stocks has fallen.

Overseas stocks saw the greatest variation in outlook sentiment compared to six months ago, Core Data says, with a “significantly depressed appeal”.

Its barometer reading for the asset class dropped from 58 to 20, suggesting that investors are much less interested in investing overseas in the first half of this year.

Core Data says domestic stocks have also “lost their sheen”. Interest in this asset type fell to 17 on the barometer, from 51 measured in the second half of last year.

The news comes as the Office for National Statistics reports that the UK economy contracted by 0.2% quarter-on-quarter at the end of last year. Meanwhile, the unemployment rate rose to 8.4% in the three months to November, the highest since 1994.

“Despite the strong opening for 2012 witnessed in the equity markets, investors are visibly still tentative and somewhat downbeat in their outlook for investment,” says Angele Spiteri Paris, senior consultant.

“The regional outlook is not looking much better. Just two of the 13 regions included in this study saw an increase in appeal – Japan and the Middle East and North Africa. Arguably, having started from a much lower base, these two regions were the ones with the most room for improved sentiment.”

Data for the i-Sight Investor Attitudinal Barometer was collected between December 14 and 20, involving 1,213 active investors.

Published: 25 January 2012
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