AAII: The American Association of Individual Investors

AAII Investor Sentiment Survey

Since 1987, AAII members have been answering the same simple question each week:


Do you feel the direction of the market over the next six months will be up (bullish), no change (neutral) or down (bearish)?


The results are compiled into the AAII Investor Sentiment Survey,
which offers insight into the mood of individual investors.

Survey Results for Week Ending 3/14/2018

Data represents what direction members feel the
stock market will be in next 6 months.

Percentage point
change from
last week
Percentage point
change from
last week
Percentage point
change from
last week

Note: Numbers may not add up to 100% because of rounding.

The AAII Investor Sentiment Survey has become a widely followed measure of the mood of individual investors. The weekly survey results are published in financial publications including Barron's and Bloomberg and are widely followed by market strategists, investment newsletter writers and other financial professionals.

AAII Sentiment Survey:

Pessimism plunged to its second-lowest level of the year, while neutral sentiment stayed above 40% on consecutive weeks for the first time since last summer.

The percentage of individual investors who expect stock prices to fall plunged to its second-lowest level of the year in the latest AAII Sentiment Survey. At the same time, neutral sentiment stayed at an unusually high level.

Bullish sentiment, expectations that stock prices will rise over the next six months, rebounded by 10.4 percentage points to 36.8%. Even with the increase, optimism is below its historical average of 38.5% for the fourth time in six weeks.

Neutral sentiment, expectations that stock prices will stay essentially unchanged over the next six months, pulled back by 3.4 percentage points to 41.8%. This is the first time neutral sentiment is above 40% on consecutive weeks since June 29, 2017, through July 13, 2017. The historical average is 31.0%.

Bearish sentiment, expectations that stock prices will fall over the next six months, tumbled 7.1 percentage points to 21.3%. Pessimism was last lower on January 3, 2018 (15.6%). The drop keeps bearish sentiment below its historical average of 30.5% for the 13th time in 14 weeks.

Pessimism is near the lower end of its typical historical range. The breakpoint between typical and unusually low readings (defined as one standard deviation below average) is currently 20.7%. Neutral sentiment is at unusually high level for a second consecutive week. Since our survey was started in 1987, the S&P 500 index has experienced average six-month returns following unusually high neutral sentiment readings.

Many individual investors are anticipating continued volatility and/or think the political backdrop could have a further impact on the stock market. Trade policy is influencing some individual investors’ sentiment, but not all. Similarly, higher interest rates are having an influence on some, but not all. Also influencing sentiment are valuations, tax cuts, earnings and economic growth.

This week’s special question asked AAII members how the possibility of a change in foreign trade policy is impacting their expectations of how stocks will perform. Responses were mixed. Just under two out five respondents (39%) expressed concerns about the new tariffs negatively affecting stocks and the economy. Slightly more than 25% of all respondents don’t expect any lasting impact on the economy or the stock market. Many of these respondents expressed skepticism about the tariffs actually being put or kept in place; others view any reaction to them as being short-lived. Just under 10% of all respondents say it is too early tell how the economy or the stock market will be affected. Another 10% of respondents are supportive of tariffs and believe they will have a positive impact on the economy.

Here is a sampling of the responses:

  • “If a trade war happens, and it is likely, it will drive down the economy.”
  • “I really don’t think there is anything here after the dust and noise settle.”
  • “In the long run, a positive impact on stocks.”
  • “No idea. The president keeps changing his mind.”
  • “I expect some stocks will benefit and some will not benefit. It remains to be seen what shakes out.”

To keep reading »

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Sentiment Survey

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How to Use the AAII Sentiment Survey as a Gauge of Future Market Direction

Over the years, AAII analysts have examined the weekly results and have tried to give some perspective to the data. These articles are the results of some of this analysis.

Analyzing the AAII Sentiment Survey Without Hindsight »
Using the AAII Sentiment Survey as a Contrarian Indicator »

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