Brexit economic fallout worries Americans - poll

Chicago - More than a third of US voters see the UK’s decision to leave the European Union (EU) as damaging to the American economy and four in 10 of those who have stock market investments say it will hurt their portfolios.

A Bloomberg/Morning Consult national poll on fallout from the Brexit vote on the western side of the Atlantic also shows deep concern about damage to the global economy and a general souring on stocks of companies outside the US.

Despite evidence of underlying anxiety about it, the British action doesn’t seem to be weighing too heavily on American consumers so far, with 50% of voters saying it will have no impact on their purchasing decisions.

About a fifth says it will have a minor influence, while a tenth say it’s likely to affect their spending in a major way.

The online survey found most Americans are following Brexit news, with 28% of voters saying they’ve read, seen or heard "a lot" about the decision and another 36% answering "some" to that question.

"With financial markets taking a dive worldwide, US voters by wide margins say the United Kingdom’s decision will hurt the US economy, the UK economy and even the global economy," said Kyle Dropp, co-founder and chief research officer at Morning Consult, a Washington-based media and technology company.

A majority of US voters -57% - say they don’t expect the UK verdict will influence their vote in the presidential election. For the roughly quarter who say it will, almost half say it will make them more likely to support Democrat Hillary Clinton, while 35% say Republican Donald Trump.

Among US voters with investments in the stock market, 41% say they think the Brexit decision will hurt their portfolios, while 17% see it as a positive.

Many in that pool of people - voters with investments who see the outcome having either good or bad consequences - are considering increasing their cash or gold positions. Both are traditional safe havens amid uncertainty.

Four in 10 of those investors say they’re inclined to buy more in gold, while a third say they’re likely to hold larger cash positions. After closing on Monday at its highest level since July 2014, gold slipped lower on Tuesday as global markets recovered some of the ground they had lost in the previous two trading sessions.

Roughly half of investors who think Brexit will have an impact on their portfolios – 51% - say they’re less likely to invest in international stock markets. Views on US stock markets are more mixed, with a third saying they’ll invest less in that asset class, 30% saying more and 29% saying about the same.

The poll was conducted on Friday through Monday, starting the day the outcome of the vote became known and as the US and global stock markets recorded significant drops.

The survey used a nationally representative opt-in panel of 2 003 registered voters, including 898 with money in the stock market through direct investment or retirement accounts. The margin of error is plus or minus 2.2 percentage points on the full sample, and plus or minus 3.3 percentage points for investors.

Those with higher levels of education and incomes are more likely to say that the Brexit vote will hurt the US economy. Democrats are also more likely than Republicans or independents to hold that view.

Opinions are mixed on whether the decision will strengthen or weaken the "special relationship" that the UK. and US have traditionally enjoyed. Just less than a third say it will strengthen it, while 26% say it will weaken it and 42% said they don’t yet know or have no opinion.

America’s voters generally have a favourable view of Britain, with 62% saying they have a very or somewhat favourable view of the island nation. That’s a larger proportion than the 51 percent who say that of Germany, another close American ally.

The European Union is viewed favourably by 39% of voters, with 29% viewing it unfavourably and 31% having no opinion.

While almost two-thirds of US voters are at least casually following Brexit news, understanding of the issue and election’s outcome aren’t universal.

Two-thirds of those in the survey correctly selected that the UK had voted to leave the European Union, while 7% thought the outcome was the opposite of what happened and 26% said they didn’t know.

The level of awareness jumped in the second half of the survey period. During Friday and Saturday, 57% said they were at least casually following the situation, while that number jumped to 68% by Sunday and on Monday.

Given a menu of possible reasons for the vote outcome, 46% of US voters picked concern about immigration, with other top selections being excessive regulations from the European Union and economic insecurity, both at 42%, and general anger with the state of affairs at the EU, at 41%.

Less than a quarter of US voters in the survey said they’ve visited the UK. Those with household incomes above $100 000 were more likely to have made the trip across the Atlantic, with 38% of that group having been to the UK.

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