Consumer share investments at peak

Consumer investment in shares reached its highest level in more than three years last month, new figures have shown.

A report by share registration services provider Capita Registrars found that private investors increased their collective holdings in equities to £233 billion at the end of February - the highest level since November 2007.

Findings of the report reveal that £473 million of the new money was invested during the quarter to February end - reflecting a strengthening confidence in the stock market.

The report also said half of the nearly £16 billion that had been wiped off private investors' portfolios as a result of the correction in the stock market following the Japanese tsunami had been recovered by last week.

At the end of February, shares held by private investors accounted for 11.8% of the UK stock market, the highest level since August 2009, and significantly above the low of 10.9% reached in May last year.

But the group said turnover in the level of shares that investors were buying and selling had been markedly lower during the past six months than in previous periods, as people focused on adding to their holdings, rather than repositioning their existing portfolios to reflect changing economic and market conditions.

Investors are also buying both defensive shares, which provide steady profits and good dividends, and more cyclically sensitive shares, which receive a disproportionate boost from an economic recovery.

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