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CBS Poll: Main Street vs. Wall Street

Most Americans believe that what happens on Wall Street influences the health of the nation's economy, and most are betting on the long-term good fortune of both.

The first annual CBS MarketWatch/CBS News poll shows that a majority of those surveyed say they are investing for their retirement or another long-term goal, and are not in the market for a quick profit. The wide-ranging survey takes a sweeping look at what Main Street thinks of Wall Street.

"The majority of investors are in for the long haul," said Kathleen A. Frankovic, director of surveys for CBS News.

Caution Mixed With Optimism

Americans, especially those who invest, believe East Asia's crisis will hurt the economy. And 63 percent say they see the stock market as "generally a risky investment" rather than a "safe one."

But only 15 percent of respondents who were investors said they planned to take their money out of the stock market by year's end. And 67 percent of those who identified themselves as investors said they would invest even more money by the year's end.


STOCK MARKET INVESTING IS...

 

Total

Stock Owners

No Stock

Safe

28%

42%

17%

Risky

63%

52%

72%


Bullish Outlook
Overall, most think the economy is in good shape and on a steady course. Fifty-three percent of those surveyed said the stock market would go higher in the next year, while 32 percent said stock indexes would decline.

Some 43 percent of adults surveyed said they or their spouses own mutual funds. Technology and biomedical stocks got high marks from investors: more than eight in ten regarded both as good investments.

Internet Investing
The survey also looked at the Internet's expanding role on Wall Street. The poll found that 16 percent of investors go online to check stock prices and 4 percent reported buying stocks or bonds on the Internet.

Click here to see complete survey results and CBS MarketWatch's Best of Wall Street series. The series takes a look the best analysts, newsletter writers and pundits in the financial world.

This poll was conducted among a nation-wide sample of 1,080 adults interviewed by telephone May 19-21, 1998. Stock owners were sampled at a higher rate and then weighted to reflect their overall population in the adult population. The error due to sampling could be plus or minus three percentage points for results based on the entire sample and plus or minus four percentage points for results based on investors.

By Thom Calandra