Confidence in mutual funds and in the stock market overall has tumbled by almost half in the last year, according to a nationwide Internet study by marketing research and consulting firm Decision Analyst, conducted last month.
A mere 23% of the respondents said they expect mutual funds and stocks to increase in value over the next six months, down significantly from 43% during the same month last year. That also represents a decline from the 28% this past December.

The study was conducted as part of the firm’s monthly Economic Index survey, which includes a sampling of several thousand households balanced by gender, age and geography. The Index has a margin of error of plus or minus 3%.

Gender does play a role in the survey’s findings, as 32% of males expect the value of mutual funds and stocks to increase, while only 15% of females are as optimistic. Age played a factor as well, as 20% of those between the age of 35 and 44 old thought mutual funds and stocks would turn it around. However, 29% of people age 55 and higher had faith.
"This survey’s findings demonstrate just how little confidence there is in the economy right now," said Jerry W. Thomas, Ppesident and CEO of Decision Analyst. "A ot of those people who invested heavily in the stock market and mutual funds in the 1980s and 1990s are now strongly pessimistic about the future of those investments. That’s having a significant impact on their overall confidence, including their spending habits. It reminds us that a depressed stock market can exert a substantial negative force on the overall economic picture."

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