Alhough stocks have soared this year to new record highs, retail investors remain bullish on stocks, according to a survey conducted by the country’s second largest mutual fund company Fidelity. About 55 percent of about 1,200 investors surveyed said that the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index will end 2013 with gains.

Retail Investors

One-third of the participants said they expect stocks to end the year flat, while 12 percent think the benchmark index would fall. It’s just the beginning of April, and the top three U.S. indices have already registered double-digit growth.

Although individual investors are upbeat about U.S. stocks, they are highly pessimistic about the country’s economy. About 70 percent of the participants said the country is still in recession, compared to just 20 percent who thought the bad days are over. The National Bureau of Economic Research CNNMoney said that the Great Depression ended in June 2009.

In a Fidelity survey, investors said that recession won’t be over until unemployment and GDP growth rate return to pre-crisis levels. A surprising thing found during the survey is that investors have become more disciplined and frugal. Many of them said the 2008 crisis served as a wake-up call.

Over 50 percent of the participants said that they now feel “prepared and confident” about their financial security instead of being “confused or scared.” Most of them have fewer debts and are better prepared for retirement, compared to their situation in pre-crisis era. Investors have increased their contributions to IRA, health saving accounts and workplace saving plans. Now they also have more money in emergency funds.

Ken Hevert, vice president at Fidelity Investments, said that Fidelity customers have boosted their IRA contribution by 15 percent compared to 2007 levels. The Great Depression has caused in people’ behavior on money.

Only people above 25 years of age who were financial decision makers in their household, were allowed to participate in the survey. Fidelity also required participants to have their own investments other than bank savings account.