Millionaires' springtime optimism wilts: survey

NEW YORK Wed Jul 1, 2009 4:46pm EDT

Hotel guests sunbathe at the pool of the Axel Hotel in Buenos Aires November 1, 2007. REUTERS/Marcos Brindicci

Hotel guests sunbathe at the pool of the Axel Hotel in Buenos Aires November 1, 2007.

Credit: Reuters/Marcos Brindicci

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Millionaire investors lost their springtime cheer and turned pessimistic in June as worries over the economy and political climate soured the mood, according to an index released on Wednesday.

High rollers became slightly bearish last month, according to the index that measures investment sentiment of the wealthy.

The plunge of 18 points to -20 on the Spectrem Millionaire Investor Index in June was a record drop for the index, which was created in 2004.

The drop in sentiment comes after a record rise of 17 points the month before, suggesting millionaires underwent a reality check after an over-abundance of optimism in May, Spectrem said.

A range of -11 to -30 indicates a "mildly bearish" tone, according to Spectrem's index.

The mood of the slightly less rich -- households with investable assets of $500,000 or more -- was also bearish, though the sentiment of the affluent did not fall by as much.

The wealthy cited the economy and political climate as their top two concerns, while worries about inflation rose. The number of those who are not investing ticked up slightly, while indexes of those who preferred stocks, bonds or stock mutual funds all fell.

The results were based on 250 monthly interviews of affluent households, 117 of which were millionaires.

Even as the mood soured, however, the outlook of those surveyed rose to its highest level since August 2008, buoyed by improvements in the outlook for household income, assets and the economy.

Tim Speiss, head of the personal wealth advisers division at Eisner LLP in New York, said his clients are optimistic about investing in the long-term as the U.S. economy attempts to climb out of recession.

"When the bottom dropped out in September, investors were in shock," said Speiss, who said most of his clients have between $15 million and $20 million in assets.

"They are now comfortable getting their arms around rebuilding their own value ... and recognizing additional value recovery will be gradual."

(Reporting by Leah Schnurr; Editing by Kenneth Barry)

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