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Americans sour on the economy


US President Joe Biden speaks to employees at the CS Wind America Inc on November 29, 2023 in Pueblo, Colorado. 

Helen H. Richardson | The Denver Post | Getty Images

This report is from today’s CNBC Daily Open, our international markets newsletter. CNBC Daily Open brings investors up to speed on everything they need to know, no matter where they are. Like what you see? You can subscribe here.

What you need to know today 

Mixed bag on Wall Street
U.S. stocks
ended mixed Tuesday as investors prepared for key inflation data due out later this week. The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite closed with small gains, up 0.17% and 0.37%, respectively. The 30-stock Dow fell for a second straight day, off by 0.25%. Bitcoin also extended gains rising above $57,000. 

Apple kills EV plans
Apple has cancelled its plan to build electric cars, according to Bloomberg. This signals an end to the company’s secretive effort to compete in the EV space against rival Tesla. Reports of Apple’s ambition first surfaced in 2014 after it recruited automotive engineers and other talent from auto companies. 

Will South Korean measures work?
South Korea’s Japan-style measures to boost corporate governance may not work to lift its undervalued stock markets and tackle the so-called “Korea discount.” In its latest attempt, the Financial Services Commission revealed a “Corporate Value-up Program,” aimed at supporting shareholder returns through incentives including tax benefits.

Honor’s foray into flip phones
Chinese technology firm Honor will launch a foldable flip phone this year, the company’s CEO George Zhao told CNBC. It will be the firm’s first entry into the vertical-folding style of smartphone as the company looks to push into the premium end of the market in a challenge to tech giants like Samsung and Apple.

[Pro] Alibaba’s compelling appeal
Despite the recent slump in Alibaba’s shares, the Chinese e-commerce giant remains on the radar of fund managers. “Alibaba is our third biggest stock [position] now. Why? The valuation is absolutely compelling,” said Andrew Lapping, Ranmore’s chief investment officer.

The bottom line

Americans’ attitudes about the economy have soured.

Consumer confidence fell to 106.7 in February, said the Conference Board, down from a revised 110.9 in January. This comes after a three-month streak of improving mood.

The index measuring short-term expectations for income, business and the job market fell to 79.8 from 81.5 in January. A reading under 80 often signals an upcoming recession.

While Americans were less worried about food and gas prices, there were rising concerns over jobs and the upcoming presidential elections.

“The decline in consumer confidence in February interrupted a three-month rise, reflecting persistent uncertainty about the US economy,” said Dana Peterson, chief economist at The Conference Board. 

“While overall inflation remained the main preoccupation of consumers, they are now a bit less concerned about food and gas prices, which have eased in recent months. But they are more concerned about the labor market situation and the US political environment.”

The drop in consumer confidence was broad based, affecting most income groups, as well as among people under 35 years old and those aged 55 and over, according to Peterson.

The survey findings reveal that despite data showing a strong labor market and a surprisingly resilient economy, public perception on the economy proves to be a challenge ahead of high-stakes elections this year.

This signals troubling signs for President Joe Biden, who has been trying to tout his administration’s economic accomplishments ahead of a likely rematch against Republican nominee Donald Trump in November.


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