Morgan Stanley Wealth Management Pulse Survey Reveals Investors Grow Bearish on the Market

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NEW YORK, October 16, 2023–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Morgan Stanley Wealth Management today announced results from its quarterly individual investor pulse survey:

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Photo credit: Morgan Stanley Wealth Management

  • Bearishness ticks up. Bearish sentiment notched up 4 percentage points to 49% from last quarter—nearing Q1 levels (52%).
  • Views on the economy remain cautiously optimistic. Slightly over half of investors (55%) believe the economy will be in better shape by the end of the year and think we’ll see inflation normalize (52%). Further, just over two in five investors (41%) think the Fed will cut rates in the first half of 2024 or sooner.
  • Yet, inflation continues to be a top concern. When it comes to investment portfolios, investors ranked high inflation as their top concern (51%), followed by a recession, (32%) and market volatility (31%).

“As we approach the end of 2023, headwinds abound with continued elevated inflation and geopolitical tensions on the rise,” said Mike Loewengart, Head of Model Portfolio Construction for Morgan Stanley Portfolio Solutions. “Yet somewhat remarkably, the economy has continued to chug along—particularly on the jobs front. This leaves investors facing a conundrum—a resilient economy coupled with a volatile market. Environments like these show the power of a diversified portfolio, which can help an investor weather whatever may be ahead for the market. The goal is to invest through the volatility, not react to it.”

The survey explored investor views on sector opportunities for the fourth quarter of 2023:

  • Energy – Interest in energy spiked 4 percentage points and took the top spot in investment opportunities this quarter as oil prices were driven higher. Elevated crude prices can translate to potential gains in the sector.
  • IT – Technology continues to be a mainstay in investor portfolios with interest remaining strong (46%) but dropping 5 percentage points quarter over quarter.
  • Health care – Amid volatility, investors tend to focus on historically defensive areas of the market like health care. Interest remained relatively flat (36%) and rounded out the top 3 investment choices for the quarter.

About the Survey

This wave of the survey was conducted from October 2 to October 16 of 2023 among an online US sample of 908 self-directed investors, investors who fully delegate investment account management to financial professionals, and investors who utilize both. The survey has a margin of error of ±3.20 percent at the 95 percent confidence level. It was fielded and administered by Dynata. The panel is broken into thirds by investable assets: less than $500k, between $500k to $1 million, and over $1 million. The panel is 60% male and 40% female and self-select as having moderate+ investing experience, with an even distribution across geographic regions, and age bands.

About Morgan Stanley Wealth Management

Morgan Stanley Wealth Management, a global leader, provides access to a wide range of products and services to individuals, businesses, and institutions, including brokerage and investment advisory services, financial and wealth planning, cash management and lending products and services, annuities and insurance, retirement and trust services.

About Morgan Stanley

Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS) is a leading global financial services firm providing a wide range of investment banking, securities, wealth management, and investment management services. With offices in 42 countries, the Firm’s employees serve clients worldwide including corporations, governments, institutions, and individuals. For further information about Morgan Stanley, please visit www.morganstanley.com.

This has been prepared for informational purposes only and is not a solicitation of any offer to buy or sell any security or other financial instrument or to participate in any trading strategy. This material does not provide individually tailored investment advice. It has been prepared without regard to the individual financial circumstances and objectives of the persons who receive it. Morgan Stanley recommends that investors independently evaluate particular investments and strategies and encourages investors to seek the advice of a Financial Advisor.

Morgan Stanley Portfolio Solutions are portfolios available in our Select UMA platform under either Firm Discretionary UMA or Managed Advisory Portfolio Solutions. Please see the Select UMA ADV at www.morganstanley.com/ADV

Past performance is not a guarantee or indicative of future performance. Historical data shown represents past performance and does not guarantee comparable future results.

This material contains forward-looking statements and there can be no guarantee that they will come to pass.
Diversification and asset allocation do not guarantee a profit or protect against loss in a declining financial market.

This material should not be viewed as investment advice or recommendations with respect to asset allocation or any particular investment.
Morgan Stanley Wealth Management is the trade name of Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC, a registered broker-dealer in the United States.

Referenced Data

When it comes to the current market are you?
  Q1‘23 Q2’23 Q3’23 Q4’23
  Total Total Total Total
Bearish 52% 48% 45% 49%
Bullish 48% 52% 55% 51%
Please rate how much you agree or disagree with the following statements: The U.S. economy will be in better shape than it currently is by the end of this quarter.
  Q4’23
  Total
Top 2 55%
Strongly agree 23%
Somewhat agree 32%
Neither agree nor disagree 18%
Somewhat disagree 17%
Strongly disagree 10%
Please rate how much you agree or disagree with the following statements: Inflation will continue to slow, and we will reach normal levels of inflation by the end of the year.
  Q4’23
  Total
Top 2 52%
Strongly agree 18%
Somewhat agree 34%
Neither agree nor disagree 17%
Somewhat disagree 19%
Strongly disagree 12%
When do you expect the Fed to first cut rates?
  Q4’23
  Total
Top 2 41%
Q4 2023 11%
1H 2024 30%
2H 2024 26%
Not until 2025 16%
I don’t know 11%
I don’t think they will cut rates 6%
Which of the following are you most concerned about when it comes to your portfolio?
  Q4’23
  Total
High inflation 51%
A recession 32%
Market volatility 31%
Energy costs 18%
Earnings 18%
Fed monetary policy 17%
Russia/Ukraine conflict 10%
Narrow market driven by mega-caps 4%
None 1%
Other 1%
What industries do you think offer the most potential this quarter(Top three)
Q3’23 Q4’23
  Total Total
Energy 43% 47%
Information technology 51% 46%
Health care 34% 36%
Financials 28% 29%
Real estate 30% 28%
Utilities 25% 24%
Consumer staples 22% 23%
Communication services 18% 20%
Industrials 18% 19%
Materials 17% 17%
Consumer discretionary 14% 11%
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