As of 1 p.m. in New York the Standard & Poor’s 500 was up 1.61% and the Dow Jones Industrial Average was ahead 1.59%. The NASDAQ Composite had climbed 1.94% and the Russell 2000 small cap index had gained 1.68%.
Overseas the iShares MSCI Emerging Markets ETF (EEM) had moved up by 2.87%. Overnight the CSI 300, the index of the 300 largest stocks traded in Shanghai, had gained 2.64%. The Shenzhen A Shares index, with its heavy weighting toward younger, more entrepreneurial companies, was up 1.80%.
Looking at individual stocks, MGM Resorts International (MGM) was up 2.86%. Why? NOT because authorities in Macau have asked casino operators to close for two weeks after a casino employee was confirmed to have the coronavirus. Travel to Macau has been nearly suspended because of the virus.
Apple (AAPL) is up 3.11% Why? NOT because the company has reopened Apple stores in China closed by the virus outbreak and NOT because the Chinese companies that are the backbone of Apple’s supply chain have announced an all-clear on factory shutdowns.
Copper miner First Quantum Minerals (FQVLF) is up 11.22%. Why? NOT because economists have reversed course and now say the coronavirus will have no effect on the Chinese or global economies.
I think what we’re seeing is a combination of a “relief bounce” on news from the Shanghai market that make it look like Monday’s big drop was a one day affair, and a bet that central banks–led by the People’s Bank and the Federal Reserve–will continue to support stock prices with cash, and big moves by a few big cap momentum stocks that have produced pronounced bullish sentiment. Poster child for this is Tesla (TSLA), up another 21% as of 1 p.m. New York time today.
I don’t trust this move. I think we’re seeing a lot of short-covering since Monday’s big down day didn’t turn into a deeper debacle. I’m not putting cash on the sidelines to work. If the surge goes on much longer, I’ll start to look to take profits in selected situations.
Let me give you one stock to ponder: China Southern Airlines (ZNH), a stock on the front lines of both the spread of the coronavirus, the shutdown of travel in China, and the slowdown in the Chinese economy for at least the first quarter of 2020, was up 3.92% today.