The U.S. 2012 fiscal year budget is unveiled in Washington
U.S. President Barack Obama's fiscal 2012 budget proposal maintains Pell Grant maximum. In order to keep the maximum Pell Grant at $5,550, the President's fiscal 2012 budget calls for $100 billion in cuts in other areas of Pell over the next 10 years, according to officials cited in news reports. REUTERS

The federal budget and unemployment were tied as top investor concerns, a poll showed, when asked to rate potential factors affecting the investment climate.

The Wells Fargo/Gallup poll showed that the federal budget deficit has risen to the very top of investor concerns. The federal budget and unemployment tied as top investor concerns, with 71 percent of investors saying each of these is hurting the investment climate “a lot.”

Despite their concerns, 62 percent of investors say now is a good time to invest in the financial markets.

Following the deficit and unemployment, investors cited the price of energy at 60 percent, closely followed by “the financial position of state and local governments” at 58 percent as factors that are hurting the investment climate “a lot.”

Fifty-one percent of investors cited “a politically divided federal government” as a factor, surpassing concerns about home price values (46 percent) and the availability of credit (38 percent).

Overall investor optimism has recovered from the depths of the recession in 2008-2009, yet remains well below pre-crisis levels, according to the Wells Fargo/Gallup Investor and Retirement Optimism Index.

Rising to 42 in February, the Index is up sharply from its all-time low of negative 64 in February 2009, just before the markets reached bottom, but significantly trails the pre-recession score of 90 in February 2007.

As the fourth largest banking institution in the U.S., it is important for us to gauge the issues affecting investor sentiment and it is interesting to see how Federal, state and local budget concerns are now affecting our investment climate, says David Carroll, Senior Executive Vice President and head of Wells Fargo Wealth, Brokerage and Retirement.

The Index is based on the results of seven core questions that were asked during telephone interviews conducted by Gallup with 1,007 investors aged 18 and older from Feb. 1 through Feb. 8, 2011.