Almost half of the world’s wealthy investors and business owners expect to maintain their stock portfolio at the same level for the next six months, even as the coronavirus pandemic plunges the global economy into disarray, according to a study by UBS.

The Swiss bank’s quarterly global survey found that 47% of the 4,108 people questioned expected to keep their stock market investments at current levels, while 37% planned to invest more in equities over the next six months.

UBS surveyed the wealthy investors and business owners across 14 markets in April and released the results Wednesday.

Almost a quarter (23%) said now was a good time to buy stocks, and another 61% said there was an opportunity to buy if stocks fall another 5-20%.

While only 46% expressed optimism about the short-term economic prospects for their respective regions, 70% of respondents were optimistic about the long-term outlook.

The decline in short-term optimism was sharpest in the U.S., falling from 68% in the fourth quarter to just 30%, while Europeans (excluding Switzerland) showed the smallest dip in sentiment, from 58% to 50%.

“Ninety-six percent of investors worldwide say COVID-19 has affected their lifestyle in some way, with more than half mentioning practicing social distancing, avoiding crowds, and refraining from travel,” UBS Wealth Management Divisional Vice Chairman Paula Polito said in a statement Wednesday.

“However, they have diverging views on when the worst of the crisis will be over, with a third citing by the end of June, a third citing the fall and a third citing the end of the year or beyond.”

As of Wednesday afternoon, the virus had infected at least 3.1 million people worldwide, and resulted in at least 217,000 deaths.

Governments and central banks around the world have deployed unprecedented fiscal and monetary stimulus packages in a bid to shore up their respective economies against the anticipated fallout, as prolonged shutdowns hammer demand and economic activity.

On Wednesday afternoon in Europe, the pan-European Stoxx 600 index was down almost 18% for the year to date, while stateside, the S&P 500 was down by around 11.4% and the Dow Jones Industrial Average was just over 15.5%. lower

The survey found that of business owners in particular, 61% are optimistic about their businesses, down from 73% in the prior survey, while 27% plan to hire more versus 17% who plan to downsize.



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