Investors slightly more confident but still cautious: Poll

JP Morgan chief Asia market strategist Tai Hui says that there are investment opportunities present in Europe and China shares.
JP Morgan chief Asia market strategist Tai Hui says that there are investment opportunities present in Europe and China shares.

Investors in Singapore are slightly more confident about the local and global outlook than they were six months ago, a new survey says.

But the JP Morgan survey found that many were nevertheless reluctant to increase their investments, given global uncertainties.

About 500 Singaporeans and permanent residents aged 25 to 60 were surveyed. They had annual incomes above $60,000, and at least five years of investing experience.

The survey was conducted from May 21 to June 8, before Greek bailout negotiations and the crash in China share prices. Its results were released yesterday at a briefing.

Although the proportion of investors likely to lift their level of investments rose by 2 percentage points to 48 per cent from six months ago, 52 per cent said they would likely maintain or decrease their investment amounts.

Among investors who were pessimistic about the local economy, the weak external economic environment was the most cited reason - 24 per cent attributed their pessimism to this.

Another 14 per cent said they were pessimistic because they expected United States interest rate hikes this year.

Of those optimistic about the Singapore economy, 24 per cent cited the recovery of global markets as the reason, while 16 per cent attributed their optimism to the Government's monetary policies.

Investors who said they would decrease their investment amounts most commonly cited the unpromising stock market (41 per cent), and rising interest rates (37 per cent) as reasons.

Mr Tai Hui, chief market strategist for Asia at JP Morgan, gave his outlook for the global economy for the second half of the year.

He observed that investment opportunities are present in Europe and China shares, and said he does not expect severe economic repercussions from the Greek crisis.

"The European economy is slowly on the mend. The quantitative easing programme, the weaker euro, the lower funding costs are contributing to an improvement in profit margin among European companies," he said.

China shares offered long-term opportunities, he said, as there is still a lot of "consumer power to be unlocked" and investment themes to explore.

He added that companies involved in China's "One Belt, One Road" initiative will likely receive many concessions in finance and approvals as the initiative is important to the Chinese government.

Also, he noted that the market is expecting the Fed to hike rates at about half the pace of previous rate-raising cycles.

A Fed rate hike will not cause significant market volatility, as the Fed has been signalling its intention to raise rates, he added.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 15, 2015, with the headline 'Investors slightly more confident but still cautious: Poll'. Print Edition | Subscribe