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Canadian investor sentiment index rises sharply

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More Canadians say it is a good time to invest, in everything from their own homes to the stock market and investment funds, according to a national poll for Manulife Financial, an insurance and wealth management company.

Each category in the index gained ground – some sharply – to register the biggest jump in the quarterly poll in a decade, up 15 percentage points to +33 – just shy of its peak of +35 exactly ten years ago.

"We’re seeing much more positive news about the economy and that certainly helps Canadians’ attitudes," says Paul Rooney, president and chief executive of Manulife Canada. "Given the economic challenges in 2008 and 2009, we’re now seeing some steady job growth and a renewed confidence in many areas."

After a decline of seven points in December, the overall Manulife Investment Sentiment Index shot up 15 points in March to +33, just below its all-time high in early 2000.

Since its launch in 1999, the Manulife Investor Sentiment Index has remained in positive territory overall. It peaked at +35 in early 2000, but fell to +11 in December 2001. During the past several years, the index had generally remained near six-year highs, above +20. But it suffered a sharp drop a year ago and again in December, to hit an all-time low of +5.

The quarterly index monitors how Canadians say they feel about investing in ten different categories and vehicles. The index reflects the percentage of those who say they believe it is a good or very good time to invest minus those who feel the opposite.

The 45th quarterly index survey registered increases in all categories and vehicles, showing the sharpest quarterly increase for stocks, which rose 23 percentage points from negative territory to +18 in the poll.

After some wild swings earlier this year, investment property and investing in their own homes both jumped this quarter. Principal residences still remain the most popular investment category – with a wide lead over every other area.

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