CNBC’s “Halftime Report” team breaks down their investment strategies in the day’s market action.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged more than 1,500 points on Thursday and was on pace for its worst day since the March sell-off as coronavirus cases increased in some states that are reopening up from lockdowns. Shares that have surged recently on hopes for a smooth reopening of the economy led the declines.
The 30-stock Dow traded 1,544 points lower, or 5.7%. The S&P 500 slid 4.5% while the Nasdaq Composite dropped 3.8%. Thursday’s losses also put the Dow on pace for its first three-day losing streak in a month. The S&P 500 was headed for its longest losing streak since early March.
“You’re seeing the psychology in the market get retested today” as traders weigh the the recent uptick in coronavirus hospitalizations and a grim outlook from the U.S. central bank, said Dan Deming, managing director at KKM Financial. “The sense is maybe the market got ahead of itself, which makes sense given the fact that we’ve come so far so fast.”
“The reality is this thing’s going to linger longer than probably the market had through of,” Deming said.
Traders dumped airlines, cruise operators and retailers after piling into those names over the past month amid expectations of a swift economic recovery. Shares of United Airlines, Delta, American and Southwest all dropped more than 9%. Carnival Corp. and Norwegian Cruise Line shares fell more than 14%. Gap and Kohl’s shares traded lower by 9% and 10%, respectively.
Instead, Wall Street fled back into stocks that have benefited from consumers staying at home during the pandemic. Netflix and Zoom Video, for example, rose 0.4% and 2.1%, respectively.
Concerns about a second wave of coronavirus cases have risen as U.S. states push deeper into reopening. Texas has reported three consecutive days of record-breaking Covid-19 hospitalizations. Nine California counties are reporting a spike in new coronavirus cases or hospitalizations of confirmed cases, AP reported Wednesday.
Friendly monetary policy from the Federal Reserve cannot “offset a severe COVID second wave,” said Dennis DeBusschere, macro research analyst with Evercore ISI, in a note. “With TX, AZ, CA new cases and hospitalizations increasing and investors concerned that recent protest will fuel a wave of infections, the risk of persistently weak economic and earnings growth has increased. S&P fair value estimates are falling as a result.”
Former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said states such as Arizona and Texas “never really got rid of the first wave.” He added: “It’s not a second wave.”
Overall coronavirus cases in the U.S. topped 2 million, according to the latest figures from Johns Hopkins University.
The downdraft followed two straight days of losses for the 30-stock Dow and S&P 500 as investors ditched reopening trades for the megacap tech names. The tech-heavy Nasdaq, however, jumped to a record high on Wednesday and closed above 10,000 for the first time.
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