The Advisor Confidence Index, a benchmark that gauges advisor views on the U.S. economy and stock market, found advisor confidence in the economy and the stock market turned positive in July.
July's gain marked the first positive move in the ACI in six months. In June, the index fell a surprising 8.66%, capping a 20%-plus decline from the first of the year. The July index reading advanced 2.29% from June.
However, the slight turn to the positive this month did not signal so much a return to bullishness as it confirmed advisors' previous bearishness. Advisors on the whole remained skeptical with regard to the economy and the global markets over the longer term.
"While I believe the outlook is modestly positive at the moment, the global landscape has plenty of landmines," said Richard Coe, a certified financial planner at Coe Financial Services. "I suspect there will be some damaging explosions in the next few years."
All of the ACI's economic components snapped back from last month's double-digit declines.
Interestingly, advisors' stock market outlook--the only component of the ACI that was positive in June--turned modestly negative in July, falling 1.20%. Advisors' outlook for stock prices had been up 6.41% in June.
"Main Street and Wall Street are disconnected," said financial advisor Peter Wheeler. "Corporate profits are up, but so are unemployment, foreclosures and negative sentiment. At some point rising interest rates, high gas prices or an international event will cause the fragile economy to freeze."
The ACI is produced by Advisor Research Center, Inc., a New York-based research firm. The index is modeled after the Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index, and it captures the sentiments of 150 independent RIAs