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Retail investors are freaking out over foreign geopolitical events as sentiment drops to levels not seen since the global financial crisis.

A survey released this week by research house Investment Trends shows investors expect a negative return on their investments of -1 per cent over the next 12 months, down from 1.2 per cent in September and 4.7 per cent in January.

“Investors now believe we’re in a bear market — on average expecting domestic markets will be lower in 12 months than where they are today,” said Investment Trends research director Recep Peker.

“While recent volatility has played a hand in driving this pessimism, investors are more concerned about major global issues.”

The survey tracks market outlook and intended investments over 2095 retail investors.

Almost half of the investors surveyed, 46 per cent, are most concerned about the current White House administration led by President Donald Trump.

Next down the list are trade conflicts, global debt levels and a China slowdown, respectively.

Only about a quarter were concerned with market volatility.