Confidence among affluent investors rose in December but it continues to lag behind levels of a few years ago, according to one survey.

Among investors with at least $500,000 in investable assets, confidence rose to 112 in December, compared to its most recent benchmarks of 107 and 101 in July and March, according to TNS’ Investor Confidence Index, which was released Wednesday.

In 2005, the confidence index was on par with the latest value (at 113). But, in 2006, when the index was at its highest, affluent investors were considerably more positive about personal financial matters as well as other economic indicators.   

The current index’s performance reflects the financial meltdown with its accompanying credit, bursting of the housing bubble and record unemployment levels that has battered the U.S. economy over the past 18 months. Confidence will surge only when “optimism about long-term economic indicators, like employment and personal financial security improves,” the TNS survey concluded. The Investor Confidence Index is part of TNS’ Affluent Market Research Program and was conducted online by TNS from Dec. 3 through Dec. 15.

Though confidence is improving, TNS said affluent respondents remain cautious about the economic outlook nationally.

“The current level of confidence continues to be mostly associated with overall performance of the markets.” Ellen Sills-Levy, a senior vice president of investment research services at TNS said in a press release: “With respondents seeing continued signs of economic growth and stability (with the 71% stating they feel the US economy will either hold steady or improve compared to 63% just a few months ago), there is a strong sense of optimism heading into 2010.”