Remains near seven-year high
WATERLOO, ON, July 19 2007 – Canadians’ interest in investments gained slightly in July and held near its seven-year peak, according to a national poll for Manulife Financial, Canada’s leading insurance and wealth management company.
The 34th quarterly Manulife Investor Sentiment Index gained a single point to +31, which is the third straight quarter it has hovered near its highest levels since 2001.
“Canadians remain generally positive about long-term investing,” said Paul Rooney, President and CEO, Manulife Canada. “The TSX continues near record highs, real estate markets remain active in Canada and the economy remains relatively stable. Interest rates and strength of the Canadian dollar are two factors that haven’t taken much steam from the latest index.”
The June survey of 1,001 Canadians by Maritz Research found five investment categories and vehicles gained ground from the previous poll, while five also lost some ground.
“It’s generally a good sign that for the past two years the overall index has remained above +20 — and for the past three quarters it’s come in above + 30,” Mr. Rooney added. “Every change in June also was in the low, single-digit range, which also suggests consumers remain steady in their views.”
The overall index
Since its launch in 1999, the Manulife Investor Sentiment Index has remained in positive territory overall. It peaked at +35 in early 2000 but fell to a low of +11, in December 2001.
The quarterly index monitors how Canadians say they feel about investing in 10 different categories and vehicles. The index reflects the percentage of those who say they believe it is a good or very good time to invest minus those who feel the opposite.
“More than one in five Canadians are served by Manulife’s wide range of inancial services and products and among our key objectives is to help them make better financial decisions,” Mr. Rooney said. “We always encourage investors to work closely with their advisors, particularly given short-term changes in the economy and markets. That helps them to balance guaranteed versus variable investments, as well as stay focused on their short- and long-term goals.”
Five categories climb — all maintain double-digit ratings
For six straight quarters, all six investment categories and four vehicles measured each quarter remained in double-digit positive territory. That happened for the first time in March, 2006 and held through the most recent poll.
Among investment categories, investment property showed the strongest gain, up four points. Fixed income was up three, while investing in stocks gained two points and investing in their own home gained a single point from the last quarterly survey. Cash lost ground, falling five points to +11, while balanced funds lost one point to +37.
The Manulife Investor Sentiment Index is determined by the following six
investment categories, shown by order of their overall ranking in the survey.
- Investing in their own homes (either through renovations or paying down the mortgage) remains the most popular place for Canadians to put their money — a consistent finding since 1999. The index for investing in their own home rose one point to +56. The index reflects 65 per cent of those surveyed who said it’s a good or very good time to invest in their own residence — minus nine per cent who believe it’s a bad or very bad time.
- Balanced funds continued to rank second as the most-popular investment target, off one point to +37. Among those surveyed, 50 per cent felt balanced funds are a good or very good place to invest, compared to 13 per cent who said the opposite.
- Investment real estate held its third place ranking among popular destinations. At +34, investment real estate showed the largest gain in the quarter, up four points.
- Fixed income investments (including GICs and annuities) showed a slight gain, gaining three points. At +28, the index remains relatively high compared to its low of +4 in mid-2004.
- After marginal gains in September, December and March, the index for equities added another two points in June to also sit at +18. The stocks index reflects 38 per cent who said it’s a good or very good time to invest in stocks, either directly or via mutual funds, while 20 per cent view equities as a bad choice. Another 17 per cent felt it’s neither a good or bad time to buy shares.
- Cash (including savings accounts) fell four points this quarter to +11. Cash continues to be among the least favourite places to put money.
As well as evaluating the six investment categories, the same question was asked of four investment vehicles.
- Among Canadians’ favourite investment vehicles, Registered Retirement Savings Plans fell back two points in June, after a major 16-point leap in December. At +52, the latest result reflects 64 per cent of respondents who feel it’s a good or very good time to put money into RRSPs, while 12 per cent said they feel it is a bad or very bad time.
- Registered Education Savings Plans fell back three points, to reach +41 in the latest poll. Some 54 per cent of those surveyed said now is a good time to invest, compared to 13 per cent who disagreed.
- After hitting a record high in December, by gaining 14 points to +37, the index for mutual funds registered a slight gain. At +31, the index for mutual funds reflects 46 per cent who said now is a good or very good time to invest in mutual funds, while 15 per cent said it was a bad or very bad time. Another 18 per cent answered that it was neither a good or bad time for funds.
- Segregated funds, perhaps the least understood of the investment vehicles, also showed a two-point decrease in June to stand at +19.
The poll by Maritz Research was conducted with 1,001 Canadians aged 18 and older between June 28 and July 3, 2007. The results have a margin of error of +/- three per cent, 19 times out of 20.
About Manulife Financial
Manulife Financial is a leading Canadian-based financial services group serving millions of customers in 19 countries and territories worldwide. Operating as Manulife Financial in Canada and Asia, and primarily through John Hancock in the United States, the Company offers clients a diverse range of financial protection products and wealth management services through its extensive network of employees, agents and distribution partners. Funds under management by Manulife Financial and its subsidiaries were Cdn$426 billion (US $370 billion) as at March 31, 2007.
Manulife Financial Corporation trades as ‘MFC’ on the TSX, NYSE and PSE, and under ‘0945’ on the SEHK. Manulife Financial can be found on the Internet at www.manulife.com