Global investor confidence declined in March as the novel coronavirus became a global pandemic, according to the State Street Investor Confidence Index.

The index, developed by State Street (STT 1.42%), decreased four points from February to 74.5. Confidence was lowest in North America, where the index dropped 2.9 points to 67.8. Europe saw the sharpest decline, falling from 110.6 to 95.6. In Asia, the index rose 8.7 points to 94.5.

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State Street's index measures investors' risk tolerance by analyzing institutional buying and selling. A reading above 100 means institutional investors are increasing their allocations; below 100 means they're decreasing.

"As the concerns over Covid-19 moved from China to Europe, the Investor Confidence Index has reflected this shift," said Lee Ferridge, State Street's head of multi-asset strategy for the Americas. "Rapidly growing case numbers in Europe pushed sentiment down by a marked 15 points, back below the neutral line of 100 for the first time since August. North American sentiment declined from an already low level, hovering near all-time lows as investors wait to see the breadth of fiscal and monetary response. In contrast, however, as the number of active cases in China declined, investor sentiment in Asia actually rebounded in March by 8.7 points, largely reversing February's decline."

This month's 74.5 overall score is the lowest since April 2019, when it was 72.9. In North America, the 67.8 number is actually up slightly from January, when it was 66.2.