Almost 60% of ultra-wealthy Americans are optimistic about their investment portfolios in 2008, which is double the rate a year ago, according to a survey conducted by PNC Wealth Management, a member of The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc.

    Among respondents with $10 million or more in investable assets, 58% say they are much more or somewhat optimistic, while 4% said they were somewhat more or much more pessimistic.

    "When our survey was taken, interest rates were on the way down. The ultra-wealthy likely are looking longer term, knowing that historically the stock market has advanced during times when interest rates are falling," said Thomas Melcher, managing director and chief investment officer of Hawthorn, the division of PNC Wealth Management that serves clients with $20 million or more in investable assets. "With a greater capital base, the ultra-wealthy are often in a better position to withstand market volatility."

    At the same time, 44% of the survey's overall 1,509 respondents (all of whom had at least $500,000 in investable assets) are more pessimistic about the national economy in 2008, up from 35% a year ago.

    The fourth annual Wealth and Values Survey by PNC, which is among the nation's top 20 wealth management firms, also revealed insights about the following investment-related matters in 2008:

    Among different market sectors, 61% of respondents like energy/utilities, followed by technology (59%) and health care (53%). The beleaguered financial sector was next highest (29%).

    The wealthy are concerned about the real estate market in general, but not their own investments or the value of their own residence. More than half (56%) said they are more pessimistic about the real estate market in 2008, compared to 46% a year ago. But only 23% of homeowners are concerned about the value of their primary residence if the current real estate downturn lasted into 2008.