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Web searches for money words anticipate market moves

Dow drops follow weeks when more people search Google for ‘debt’ or ‘stocks’

11:06am, April 25, 2013

The jittery, sweaty-palmed fear of losing money in the stock market leaves a signature in Google search data. Upticks in web searches for finance-related words such as debt, stocks and portfolio are good indicators of an impending downturn in the market, a new study shows. People enter such search terms less frequently before market gains, researchers report April 25 in Scientific Reports.

The new analysis is in line with previous work demonstrating that the frequency of some Google searches, such as those related to the flu, can gauge what a large number of people are worrying about.

Some Internet searches are driven by fear, says economist Paul Gao of the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, who was not involved in the study. “Think about it: When you feel good, you don’t search for words like flu or pharmacy.”

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