For Small Investors, No Rush for the Exits

Despite a wild week on Wall Street, small investors still managed to keep sight of the big picture.

While the big traders rushed to sell, many small investors stuck with their confidence in the US economy - and the stock market - and stayed put. Many are now itching to buy.

Financial planners say they were pleasantly surprised at the quiet reserve displayed last week by clients last week.

"On the day of the big drop, out of 60 clients, I got only one telephone call from someone who was a little bit nervous," says Roy Komack, a financial adviser in Natick, Mass. "People have been listening to what I've been saying, which is, 'We are doing this for the long term.' "

At lunch time last week in Boston's historic Copley Square, fast-walking (and talking) people seemed as unfazed by the market's cold snap as by the recent drop in temperature.

All in all, it was the amateurs who were amused at the antics of pros.

"I'm just laughing," says John Ivey, a marketing consultant who lives in Wellesley, Mass., and invests heavily in stocks.

"I'm always intrigued by market psychology, especially at these people who run and scream and think the sky is falling," says Mr. Ivey, who seemed undaunted by the week's events. He says he's now starting to shop for bargains.

Sapaleto Seymur, an engineering program manager, says he'd like to add more to his retirement fund - if he had cash.

"If I had some money, it would be a good time to put some in the market," he smiles.

Indeed, the rallying point for the stock market last Tuesday was the emergence of small investors. After the professional traders beat a path for the door on Monday, individuals started buying and drove stocks higher.

Joe Peralto, a pension fund manager from Concord, Mass., favors "staying the course." He invests to fund his children's education and retirement.

"I'm not concerned about this," he says confidently. "Anyone who does make a move, it's just a knee-jerk reaction."

"I'm just holding," adds Ruth Anne McGinley, a community-college instructor visiting Boston from Mechanicsburg, Pa. Her best advice, she says with a grin: "Ignore the market."

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