Just how much are Americans worried about the coronavirus? We’re about to find out.
The first big clue on how Americans think comes Friday with the initial results of consumer sentiment. The closely followed survey stood near a postrecession high in February, but it was taken before the viral outbreak started to dominates the news.
The novel coronavirus was mentioned by just 7% of consumers in early February when the University of Michigan did its preliminary questionnaire. That number jumped to 20% in the last two days of the survey before the final results for the month were released. The World Health Organization first named the infectious disease derived from the new strain COVID-19 on Feb. 11.
Related:Consumers start to wake up to COVID-19 threat to the economy
The number of consumers who mention the virus could jump a lot higher in March and knock the index sharply lower.
“The sharp stock market sell-off and the spread of the coronavirus in the U.S. are likely to depress consumer optimism,” Credit Suisse told clients in a research note.
To be sure, there is already plenty of evidence consumers are worried. Many have canceled flights, stocked up on medical supplies such as masks a
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