Investor Sentiment Holds Steady in 2012's Final Quarter

           Investor Sentiment Holds Steady in 2012's Final Quarter

-- Investors' chief concern is political gridlock in Washington; some worry
that tax advantages of 401(k) plans may be in jeopardy

-- Top New Year's resolutions include trimming household budgets and traveling
more

PR Newswire

BOSTON, Jan. 7, 2013

BOSTON, Jan.7, 2013 /PRNewswire/ --Investors' confidence held steady in the
fourth quarter of 2012, with the John Hancock Investor Sentiment Index®
hovering at +18, compared to a score of +17 in the third quarter of last year.
Investor sentiment has remained at a relatively modest level over the last
three quarters amidst widespread economic and political concerns, the Index
showed.

(Photo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20130107/NE37071-INFO )

Investors continue to have positive views toward equities, with roughly half
(48 percent) saying it is a good time to invest in stocks, while their outlook
for fixed income remains mixed. Just over a quarter feel now is a good time to
invest in bonds (27 percent), yet a similar share (30 percent) think it's a
bad time. Stock market growth is in the near future, according to more than
half the investors polled. They think the Dow Jones Industrial Average will be
at or above 13,500 by the end of the third quarter of this year. Overall,
investors think blue chip stocks (20 percent) are the type of investment with
the most potential, with healthcare and energy as the likely best-performing
sectors.

Looking toward the New Year, investors revealed that three in ten (29 percent)
plan to find ways to trim their household budget in 2013. One in five said
their top financial New Year's resolution was to rebalance their investment
portfolio, while 16 percent plan to create a will or estate plan. Learning
more about investing and what they should be doing is the financial
planning-related New Year's resolution for ten percent of investors.

From a fun and leisure standpoint, more than a third of investors (36 percent)
plan to take a vacation in 2013. One in seven (15 percent) plan to exercise or
live a healthier lifestyle. Close to one in ten (nine percent) plan to simply
enjoy life and be happy, while eight percent claim they do not make
resolutions. Only a few plan to save money, pay off debt, or try to reduce
stress (each, three percent). Even fewer plan to spend less money or spend
more time with family and friends (two percent each).

When asked about their key concerns, nearly two out of three (63 percent)
describe themselves as very concerned about political gridlock in Washington,
DC. More than four in ten (45 percent) expressed concern leading up to the
last minute fiscal cliff decisions. The national debt (57 percent) and the
cost of healthcare (58 percent) also continue to worry investors.

Inflation is a major concern as well. Twenty-six percent feel very concerned
about inflation, with the share of investors who think that the rate of
inflation will run at more than four percent two years from now increasing to
22 percent from 17 percent in Q3 of 2012. The plurality of investors (44
percent), however, predicts inflation will remain in the three to three and a
half percent range.

"While investors certainly have a lot on their minds, our survey indicates
that many investors are feeling good about their financial position," said
Bill Cheney, John Hancock's Chief Economist. "Four in ten feel they are
better off financially now compared with two years ago (42 percent), and
slightly more (47 percent) expect their situation will improve in the years
ahead."

"Retirement saving and investing remains the top goal for 40 percent of
workers in our survey. However, there are signs that enthusiasm for 401(k)
investing has weakened somewhat compared with earlier in 2012. About
two-thirds (63 percent) say they are likely to invest in a 401(k) over the
next 12 months, which is lower than at the same time last year when the figure
was 70 percent. One factor may be the third of investors (34 percent) who say
they are very concerned about potential changes to the tax advantages of
employer-sponsored retirement savings plans, with another 34 percent somewhat
concerned about this," Mr. Cheney added.

Concern over unemployment decreased significantly in the third quarter, with
37 percent of investors rating it as a chief concern, compared with 45 percent
in Q3 of 2012.

About the John Hancock Investor Sentiment Survey
John Hancock's Investor Sentiment Survey is a quarterly poll of investors.
The survey measures investors' feelings about the current economic climate and
their evaluations of what represents a good or bad investment given the
current environment. The poll also asks consumers about their confidence in
reaching key financial goals and likelihood of purchasing financial products
and services. This online survey was conducted by independent research firm
Mathew Greenwald & Associates. A total of 1,127 investors were surveyed
November 26^th to December 7^th, 2012. Respondents were selected from among
members of Research Now's online research panel. To qualify, respondents were
required to participate at least to some extent in their household's financial
decision-making process, have a household income of at least $75,000, and
assets of $100,000.

The data were weighted by age and education to reflect the population of
Americans matching the survey's qualification requirements. In a
similarly-sized random sample survey, the margin of error would be plus or
minus 2.98 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level.

About John Hancock Financial and Manulife Financial
John Hancock Financial is a division of Manulife Financial, a leading
Canada-based financial services group with principal operations in Asia,
Canada and the United States. Operating as Manulife Financial in Canada and
Asia, and primarily as John Hancock in the United States, the Company offers
clients a diverse range of financial protection products and wealth management
services through its extensive network of employees, agents and distribution
partners. Funds under management by Manulife Financial and its subsidiaries
were C$515 billion (US$523 billion) as at September 30, 2012. Manulife
Financial Corporation trades as 'MFC' on the TSX, NYSE and PSE, and under
'945' on the SEHK. Manulife Financial can be found on the Internet at
manulife.com.

The John Hancock unit, through its insurance companies, comprises one of the
largest life insurers in the United States. John Hancock offers a broad range
of financial products and services, including life insurance, annuities, fixed
products, mutual funds, 401(k) plans, long-term care insurance, college
savings, and other forms of business insurance. Additional information about
John Hancock may be found at johnhancock.com.

SOURCE John Hancock Financial

Website: http://www.johnhancock.com
Contact: Beth McGoldrick, +1-617-663-4751, bmcgoldrick@jhancock.com
 
Press spacebar to pause and continue. Press esc to stop.