A new survey of investment sentiment released by Jardine Fleming Unit Trusts yesterday shows 56 per cent of the territory's financial decision makers believe the Hang Seng Index will be higher in six months. The study, undertaken between June 10 and June 16, revealed just 14 per cent of the 200 interviewees believed the index would fall in the same period. Fifty-five per cent of those questioned planned to invest in the domestic stockmarket, either directly or through unit trusts, within the next six months. Jardine Fleming unit Trusts marketing director Mike Ryder Richardson said: 'It reflects people's belief that Hong Kong will continue to thrive, both contributing to and benefiting from China's economic development. These are very encouraging results.' Mr Ryder Richardson said the survey was undertaken to gauge the short-term outlook for the market. He said an identical survey would be undertaken roughly every two months, or when significant events occurred, to provide a time series. Over a 12-month view, the respondents were slightly less optimistic, with 50 per cent seeing the Hang Seng Index higher, and 14 per cent seeing it lower. Mr Ryder Richardson said: 'Over the longer term, investors can foresee the market stabilising after the expected rises of the next six months.' The survey - conducted by Market Behaviour (HK) - was aimed only individuals with incomes above $15,000 or household income above $25,000, and who had existing investments in unit trusts, stocks, foreign currency deposits, or term deposits. Jardine Fleming Investment Management director Patrick Wong Kwai-sun said the improving economic and political situation in Hong Kong meant the fundamentals underlying the market supported investor's optimism. 'There are currently many positive factors which make us optimistic about the Hong Kong market's prospects and we believe it is likely to reach our target for this year of 15,500,' he said.