A number of economic factors are combining to make financial advisors more pessimistic about the immediate future of the investment world, according to a recently released survey by Rydex AdvisorBenchmarking Inc., an affiliate of Rydex Investments based in Rockville, Md.

   The confidence of advisors in the economy and the stock market outlook was down nearly 4% (3.93%) in May, compared to the previous month. Based on a series of questions, Rydex compares the confidence level to answers given when the survey began more than three years ago. The May level was set at 111.55 compared with 116.11 the previous month.

   The most significant decrease in confidence was shown for the outlook of the stock market, which was down 6.14%, while the confidence level for the economy as a whole, when looking out 12 months, declined only slightly, by less than 1%.

   "The financial markets are getting more risky, as spreads between safe and risky assets continue to narrow," says Bill Ramsay of Financial Symmetry Inc., in Raleigh, N.C., about the market outlook.

   Rob Siegmann of Financial Management Group in Cincinnati, Ohio, adds, "Our firm remains cautious of worldwide equities and is aggressively trimming profits and parking (investments) in high-quality bonds, the worst-performing asset class over the past five years. We see this as selling high and buying low."

   Factors considered by advisors in lowering their expectations for the economy included an expected decline in retail spending, a slowing of corporate earnings growth, policy decisions by the Federal Reserve Board, inflation and the normal summertime market adjustments, according to the Rydex survey.