Wilmington, Del. (March 27, 2003) -- Despite concerns over the war with Iraq, nearly 60 percent of portfolio managers described themselves as bullish in their outlook for the U.S. equity markets for the next six months, according to a survey by Smith Barney's Consulting Group.

Another 30 percent described their outlook as neutral, while 2 percent of managers were bearish, SBCG reported. The survey, conducted in mid-March, is based on input from nearly 50 portfolio managers in the Fiduciary Services program, the Consulting Group’s separate account platform.

When asked to rank the most influential factors to restore investor confidence in the market, respondents listed the resolution of military conflicts as the top factor, followed by improved corporate earnings, U.S. tax cuts or change in fiscal policy and the resolution of corporate accounting issues.

Nearly 80 percent of the managers expect the Standard & Poor's 500 Index to end the year on a positive note, with 17 percent estimating an annual return at year's end of 10 percent to 15 percent. Thirty-seven percent expect a return of between 5 percent and 10 percent; 15 percent predict a return of up to 5 percent, and 9 percent predict a return greater than 15 percent.

Consulting Group is a division of Smith Barney, the global private wealth management and equity research unit of Citigroup.

-- Electronic Accountant Newswire Staff

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