SINGAPORE retail investors are a little more upbeat in their investment outlook for the next six months than they were six months back, according to a survey released yesterday.

This upturn in investor sentiment is shown in the JP Morgan Investor Confidence Index, which climbed 15 points from an all-time low to 101 in the latest poll done between May 29 and June 7.

The index is derived from scoring investors' responses to questions on their outlook on various issues, such as the likelihood of raising their personal investments in the next six months.

An index level of zero shows an extremely pessimistic stance, while 100 is neutral and 200 is extremely optimistic.

Started in late 2010, the twice- yearly poll was commissioned by JP Morgan Asset Management and done by independent market research firm TNS. It involved 500 investors with an annual personal income of more than $60,000 and five years of active investment experience.

The outlook is still cautious but less gloomy, with four in 10 respondents planning to increase their financial investments and 16 per cent planning a reduction.

More are also expressing confidence over an increase in the Straits Times Index, an improvement in the local investment market and portfolio appreciation.

Mr Brian Tan, JP Morgan Asset Management Singapore head of retail sales, said: 'Surprisingly, the survey shows Singapore retail investors are turning optimistic amid the uncertainty in global economies and markets.'

However, fund managers do not seem as bullish.

An OCBC poll of 16 fund management companies on their investment outlook for the next six months showed 43 per cent were more negative on equity markets compared with six months ago.

Their main concerns were the euro-zone sovereign debt crisis and a slowdown in China's economy, noted Mr Vasu Menon, OCBC's vice-president of wealth management (Singapore). He added: 'The euro-zone debt woes are growing to become a key concern among fund managers.'

Nearly half of the fund managers polled named the euro-zone crisis as the most important risk factor to look out for in the second half of this year.

Forty-four per cent of those polled saw the debt contagion spreading to the euro-zone periphery, but more than 80 per cent do not see the euro region disintegrating as a result.

Meanwhile, Citi Private Bank has advocated caution in times of austerity in its outlook for the second half of this year.

Mr John Woods, its chief investment strategist for Asia-Pacific, said: 'We will continue to have macro headwinds, but below those macro headwinds, we will see micro opportunities.'

Citi tipped the defensive consumer staples, such as food producers and clothing companies, and consumer discretionary, like gaming companies and auto producers, as sectors which will perform well.

Mr Woods added: 'It plays to the urbanisation of Asia and it also plays to this focus at the policy level to promote domestic consumption away from export-led growth.'