Retail investors appear to be regaining some nerve, The Washington Times reports.

After withdrawing money from stock funds in the fourth quarter of 2008 and the first quarter of this year, inflows have returned to modest levels, Investment Company Institute Chief Economist Brian Reid said.

“Sentiments have improved,” agreed Brian Lipps, managing of a Washington investor center for Charles Schwab. “People want guidance now more than ever.” Likewise, T. Rowe Price and Vanguard said inflows have been encouraging in recent weeks, but that there is still a lot of cash on the sidelines.

T. Rowe spokesman Brian Lewbart noted, “People, clearly, in the second quarter were taking cash and reallocating it. We’ve started to see some movement, but there’s still a lot of money sitting on the sidelines.”

Financial planner Lew Altfest of Altfest Personal Wealth Management said he has been receiving fewer calls, and fewer “frantic” calls.

While Altfest and other advisers are unsure of how the market will perform over the coming months, they are emphasizing to clients that they cannot time the market and need to be invested in order to properly prepare for retirement.

Christopher McDermott, vice president of retirement and financial planning at Fidelity, tempered his enthusiasm about investor sentiment, saying, “They’re doing more research, and they’re inquiring more about how and whether to make moves in their portfolios, but it would be an overstatement to say that the memory of last year’s fourth quarter has been erased.”

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