More than 50 percent of wealthy investors believe the economy will be stronger one year from now, according to the just released CNBC Millionaire Survey. That's up 9 percent from six months ago, when 42 percent of millionaires surveyed expressed a similar level of confidence.
Tom Wynn, director of affluent research at Spectrem, provided several factors for the increased confidence: the steady improvement in job growth, the steady increase in the major stock market indices since the spring, and a decrease in political ambiguity with the election season over, which has an effect on at least some people's outlook. Wynn said this confidence extends to household income, household assets and company health. "In all of these areas, there has been an increase in confidence," he said.
However, the rise in overall economic confidence among the wealthy has not translated into greater bullishness about the stock market.
Investors anticipate moderate growth of 5 percent to 10 percent in the stock market, similar to the findings in the March millionaire survey. It is still the largest percentage of investors who anticipate their assets will grow 5 percent to 10 percent in 2015.
The rest of affluent investors diverge in near-equal percentages: those who think the stock market will be flat in 2015 (16 percent) represent roughly the same portion of this demographic as those who are very bullish (17 percent), expecting the market to be up 10 percent to 15 percent in 2015.
A few primary areas of concern contributed to the modest stock market expectations of affluent investors.
Investors believe the greatest risk to the economy over the next 12 months is government dysfunction, followed by global unrest.
Republicans are more concerned about the national debt than Democrats. Democrats identify government dysfunction as a greater risk to the economy than Republicans. Democrats are also more concerned about global unrest than Republicans. Across party lines, government dysfunction is a large concern for baby boomers who are facing retirement.
Overall, Democrats are more optimistic about the economy over the next year than Republicans or Independents. Younger investors and Democrats are more optimistic about potential stock market growth in 2015 than Republicans or Independents.
The CNBC Millionaire Survey, conducted by Spectrem Group in November, polled 500 people with investable assets of $1 million or more, which represents 8 percent of American households.
Where will the S&P 500 end in 2015?
56 percent: Of Democrats expect the S&P 500 to gain 5 percent to 10 percent in 2015.
55 percent: Of the "semiretired" expect the market to be up 5 percent to 10 percent, making them significantly more confident than the "working" (43 percent) or "retired" (48 percent) segments.
48 percent: Of millionaires expect the S&P 500 to be up 5 percent to 10 percent (down from 54 percent in March 2014). Among younger investors, the stock market confidence rises to 51 percent.
21 percent: Of the wealthiest investors (more than $5 million in assets) are also the most confident in the stock market, expecting a return of 10 percent to 15 percent. Six percent of the wealthiest investors are betting on an even greater market gain (+15 percent).
21 percent: Of women expect the market to be flat, significantly higher than the 13 percent of male millionaires who anticipate a flat market in 2015.
11 percent: Of female millionaires expect the S&P 500 to be down by 5 percent to 10 percent, more than the 8 percent of men who lack market confidence.
9 percent: Of millionaires expect the S&P 500 to be down by 5 percent to 10 percent (up from 7 percent in March 2014).
5 percent: Of millionaires will increase investment in Vanguard Group funds in 2015, making its funds the "individual stock" that will see the most new investment in 2015-Apple, the most popular stock among millionaires, will see the same 2 percent in new investments as investors highlighted in March 2014.
4 percent: Of millionaires expect the S&P 500 to be down by 10 percent to 15 percent-that doubled from 2 percent in the survey conducted last March.