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Sentiment reaches for sky

DOOMSAYERS have been kept at bay with Australian optimism reaching record highs.

Business and investor confidence all points in the same direction – up.

The sentiment has been captured in three surveys by Challenger/ASSIRT, Morgan & Banks and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

The Challenger/ASSIRT Invest-ment Sentiment Index shows investor sentiment continues to climb despite the increase in interest rates brought down on 2 November.

The results of the Challenger/ ASSIRT Investment Sentiment Index indicates Australians remain very confident about the current investment climate.

Over 2,000 respondents from across the country were interviewed.

Challenger International general manager Phill Antman said the healthy economic climate and growth in key investment markets undoubtedly contributed to the result.

“It would seem that investors regard the new capital gains tax

legislation as a positive for investment,” Mr Antman said.

“The reduction in capital gains tax mean investors now have more incentives to invest, particularly in growth orientated investments.

The survey covered investor sentiment to shares, property, cash, superannuation, managed investments and overseas investments.

The Australian Share Investment Sentiment Index was also at an all time high. Sentiment has been on the increase since October 1997.

ASSIRT director Brett Sanders said share investment benefited considerably from the new capital gains tax.

Sentiment linked to investment in Australian property, superannuation, cash and managed funds were all at an all-time high.

However, Mr Sanders said some investors felt the market had peaked and believe cash-related investments may be the safer option at present.

The cash sentiment has increased sharply since the March survey as investors believe other investments are becoming more risky.

On the favourable superannuation sentiment Mr Antman said: “It would appear that, notwithstanding the many changes to superannuation over the years, investors continue to regard superannuation as a core component of their retirement savings.”

The survey follows a similar poll undertaken by the Chamber of Commerce and industry into the expectations of 400 WA businesses.

This survey found business confidence surged during the September quarter.

Respondents expressing a positive outlook for the WA economy rose from 16 per cent in June to 35 per cent. Those tipping poorer times fell from 45 per cent to 26 per cent.

The Morgan & Banks Job Index recorded its highest level since the index began in April 1995.

Almost 40 per cent of employers Australia-wide intend to increase their staff numbers in the next three months.

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