Active traders are optimistic about the stock market, so much so that they plan on investing their tax refunds in the market.

On Tuesday, Charles Schwab today released its latest Active Trader Sentiment Survey, which polled 653 individual traders and investors between March and April 2011, who trade at least 36 times per year, and found that 72% of those who are expecting a tax refund this year plan on investing at least some of it. Twenty-eight percent say they will put the entire refund into their investment portfolios.

Meanwhile, overall optimism about market conditions is the highest since the end of 2009. Forty-seven percent said they are currently bullish, compared to 38% last November and just 28% in April 2010. Seventy-seven percent responded that they believe market volatility is a friend as opposed to a foe, up from 71% in November 2010.

Traders are bullish about specific sectors of the market: 36% are bullish on the technology sector, while 26% are bullish on materials, 13% on financials, and just 4% on the energy sector. Only 1% identified commodities as the sector they were optimistic about. Forty-nine percent own foreign stocks mostly through American Depository Reciepts (ADRs) or Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs), down from 56% in November. This could be because of the crisis in Japan and unrest in the Middle East.

In addition, trader’s optimism is preventing complacency. Twenty-five percent recently changed their portfolio allocation to include less cash. And 69% plan to make more than 36 trades this year. Traders said an easy-to-use trading platform (26%) was most important to them, followed closely by access to research (25%) and cost (20%).

“These survey results reinforce what we are already seeing among our client base,” noted Kelli Keough, vice president of active trading at Charles Schwab, in a press release. “The trading platform is often the single biggest influence in how a trader perceives and reacts to market-making events. At Schwab, we are committed to providing our active trader clients with an approachable easy to use platform that helps them confidently interact with the market and make smarter trading decisions.”

Charles Schwab recently unveiled a new flagship platform for active traders called StreetSmart Edge.




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