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Poll Finds Investors Remaining Calm

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TIMES STAFF WRITER

Most Americans won’t change their saving and investing habits in the wake of the worst terrorist attack in U.S. history, although many say they’ll be afraid to fly, according to a poll released Thursday.

The poll, conducted by Harris Interactive over the Internet Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, surveyed more than 4,600 adults on an array of financial issues, including how specific types of investment would perform in the aftermath of Tuesday’s terrorist attacks in New York and Washington.

Only 1% of those surveyed said they’d be inclined to sell their stock holdings. The other 99% of participants said they don’t expect to sell stocks because of the terrorist attacks.

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U.S. stock markets have been closed since Tuesday’s attacks and won’t reopen until Monday at the earliest. The Harris poll could provide some clues to what investors might do once they have a chance to resume buying and selling stocks and bonds.

But Internet surveys are a relatively new phenomenon, which makes it somewhat more difficult to gauge their accuracy. Harris said the poll’s sampling error is plus or minus 1.5%.

A slight majority of those polled--51%--said they believed that stocks will become a worse investment over the next weeks and months. About 31% thought gold would perform better than it has. The price of gold--a traditional safe haven in times of crisis--initially spiked after the attacks but has since stabilized.

Overall, Americans will make few changes to their economic behavior, according to the Harris poll.

* When asked whether they will spend less and save more, 23% said yes; the rest said no.

* Nineteen percent said they’ll keep more cash on hand, while 81% will not.

* Sixty-seven percent of respondents said they’d be afraid to fly in the next few days, but just 37% said they’d be inclined to avoid flying over the next few months.

* Twenty-three percent plan to buy more emergency supplies; 77% do not.

* Twenty-seven percent will cut down on visits to big cities and places they consider to be possible targets; 73% will not.

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* Only 15% plan to reduce or cancel overseas travel; 85% won’t.

The vast majority of respondents--80%--said they would be willing to give up some personal freedoms in order to boost security in public places. Still, only 35% expected to change any aspect of their personal lives to reduce their chance of becoming victims of terrorism.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

Investor Response

Here’s how Americans polled this week said Tuesday’s terrorist attacks would affect their financial behavior:

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No Yes Sell stocks they own 99% 1% Spend less and/or save more 77 23 Keep more cash on hand 81 19

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Poll of more than 4,600 U.S. adults, conducted Tuesday night and Wednesday morning. Margin of error is plus or minus 1.5%.

Source: Harris Interactive

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