Almost one in two "active" investors believe equities will outperform and provide greater returns than property in 2004, says the Association of Investment Trust Companies.
Two surveys of collectively nearly 4,500 individual private investors suggest 44% of investors are taking a more active interest in their portfolios and are becoming more bullish about the stockmarket, the association reports.
Some 36% of the general public are still putting their faith in the housing market, believing property will offer better returns.
Annabel Brodie-Smith, AITC communications director, says: "Active private investors are now more confident in equities than property but despite predictions of a property crash the general public are still putting their faith in bricks and mortar."
This shows that active private investors are leading the way back to equities, while the general public remains much more cautious, she says.
Active investors' newly gained confidence - boosted by market recovery and better economic climate - is mirrored by the fact 43% plan to use their full £7,000 ISA allowance this year, the AITC survey reveals. Some 67% are also considering increasing the exposure of their portfolios to the stock market over the next few months.
These figures are supported by other evidence in the form of an investor survey by JPMorgan Fleming, which suggests strong support for investing in the stockmarket among those intending to save through an ISA.
About a quarter of the 732 provate investors surveyed for JPMF's research said they planned to invest in an ISA, with a third of those planning to put the money into equities rather than cash.
However, JPMF's research also suggests people in general still won't save enough, as a third of those it surveyed said they would spend their surplus cash rather than save it in any form.
The AITC says the most popular geographical sector for equity investments is the UK, with 64% focusing their attentions on Britain. Some 10% also look to the Far East, which has performed well in the past year.
The least popular markets are Latin America, Japan and the US, the association adds.
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