In February, the political environment trumped international developments, stock market conditions and oil prices as the news story most affecting the economic outlook of Affluent investors.
Twenty-two percent of Affluent investors we surveyed last month cited news stories concerning the political environment were uppermost on their minds in shaping their current economic outlook. This is up from 12 percent from when this question was last asked three months ago.
Analyzed by political affiliation, we find that Affluent investors who identify as Republicans are more likely than their counterparts who are Independent or Democrat to indicate that news stories about the Political Environment are those most affecting their current economic outlook (26 percent vs. 20 percent and 18 percent, respectively).
The survey was conducted between Feb. 16-17, two weeks following the Iowa caucus and a couple of days before the South Carolina Republican primary. While the primary process plays out against the candidates' increasingly personal attacks against each other, divide between the White House and lawmakers hit new levels of rancor with the passing on Feb. 13 of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, which immediately set off a partisan debate over whether President Obama should submit a nominee to replace him and whether or not Congress would even consider it.
Beyond political news. 19 percent of surveyed Affluent investors (up from 2 percent in November) indicated that Stock Market Conditions is the news story most affecting their economic outlook. As the survey was fielded, the market had been staging something of a comeback after the S&P 500 and Nasdaq suffered multi-year lows earlier in the month. With market volatility calmed, CNNMoney’s Fear & Greed Index rose into Neutral territory after showing signs of Extreme Fear for most of this year.
One-fourth of Affluent investors who vote Independent tell us their economic outlook is being most shaped by news stories about Stock Market Conditions, compared with 18 percent of Democrats and 16 percent of those who vote Republican.
Analyzed by gender, we find a higher percentage of Affluent women than men whose economic outlook is being most affected by news stories about Stock Market Conditions (26 percent vs. 15 percent).
Low oil prices, which did much to drive recent market volatility was considered by 18 percent Affluent investors to be the news story most affecting their economic outlook. This is four-times higher than three months ago. Affluent investors who vote Republican are especially focused on news stories about oil prices (16 percent vs. 4 percent of Independents and 3 percent of Democrats).
The economic outlook of 17 percent of Affluent investors is being shaped by news stories about international, our survey found.
Less than 5 percent of Affluent investors indicated that their economic outlook was being shaped by news stories about the Economy (4 percent), Unemployment and the interest rates increase (3 percent each), and terrorism (2 percent, down from 34 percent in November 2015).
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