US investor optimism up 14%, according to UBS survey

Swiss financial firm UBS’s (NYSE: UBS) UBS Wealth Management Americas (WMA) unit said it has launched its Investor Watch report, a new quarterly survey of US private clients’ investment decisions and primary concerns as the nation approaches the November 6 election.

According to UBS, the first Investor Watch shows individual investors’ optimism returning, their flight to cash receding and their intentions to reinvest in financial markets and spend on experiences.

The survey shows that individual investors are more optimistic than a year ago:35% are optimistic about the short-term (12-month) economic outlook, versus 21% a year ago. And while 38% are pessimistic about the economy, that number is dramatically lower than a year ago, when 60% felt this way.

Younger private clients aged 25-49 are more optimistic about the short-term outlook and are more willing to take risks; 45% of younger investors are optimistic about the short-term economic outlook, compared to only one-third of older investors.

The vast majority of investors feel they have the right amount of cash. High net worth investors, especially, plan to decrease cash holdings and reinvest in the markets over thenext year.

According to the findings, 61% % of US private clients are highly concerned about the size of the national debt in terms of potential impact on their financial goals and objectives. Rising health care costs and the national election were close behind on the list of investors’ worries.

Investors are spending more time and money on leisure and experiential activities and less on shopping.

The UBS Investor Watch survey was conducted among more than 2,000 US investors, including current UBS clients, UBS said.

France’s Areva in talks to sell its US nuclear measurements unit Canberra

French nuclear power group Areva SA (EPA:AREVA) unveiled exclusive negotiations over the sale of its US nuclear measurement solutions unit Canberra Industries Inc to French private equity firm Astorg Partners, as part of a strategic plan announced in December last year.

Under the Action 2016 strategic initiative, Areva has set out to sell assets with the aim of cutting debt and raising funds to finance its strategic and safety investment programme, the vendor explained.

Areva provided no further details about the ongoing talks in its short, regulatory statement, but Reuters cited informed people as saying that the private equity suitor had made an offer that gives Canberra a value of between EUR310m (USD405m) and EUR350m. The information provided by these sources confirmed a report by French newspaper Les Echos. According to the daily, a deal could be struck within four to five weeks.

Areva said in December 2011 it planned to strengthen its balance sheet by reducing investments and disposing of assets after demand fell following the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan. The group announced then it aimed to sell EUR1.2bn worth of non-strategic operations within two years, but later, in July 2012 said it would reach this target in 2012.

Canberra, active for more than 40 years, provides nuclear measurement solutions used to ensure personnel safety, assess the health of nuclear facilities and protect the public and the environment. The firm, offering integrated nuclear gamma and alpha spectroscopy devices, has production and engineering facilities globally, employing over 1,000 staff, according to its website.