Wouldn't it be great if you could know exactly when the stock market crash that's resulted from worries about coronavirus disease COVID-19 has bottomed out? Unfortunately, there isn't a magic indicator that you can monitor. And just because the market rebounds strongly one day doesn't mean it won't plunge again the next -- as we saw happen last week.
But while there isn't a precise way to know when the coronavirus-fueled market crash is over, there could be some clues that let you know that better days could soon lie ahead. In particular, I think there are three stocks that investors should watch closely.
1. Gilead Sciences
I recently wrote that Gilead Sciences (GILD -1.04%) could be the company that prevents a global recession. Unfortunately, the rapid spread of COVID-19 and the precautionary measures being taken across the world to slow the progress of the disease might be too much for a recession to be avoided now. But a lot of hopes are riding on the big biotech.
Gilead's antiviral drug remdesivir is already in late-stage clinical testing for treating COVID-19. World Health Organization (WHO) assistant director-general Bruce Aylward stated a couple of weeks ago, "There is only one drug right now that we think may have real efficacy and that's remdesivir."
The potential for remdesivir has already helped Gilead's shares rise while most stocks have tanked. If Gilead reports positive results from its two late-stage clinical studies, the biotech stock will almost certainly skyrocket.
It's difficult to predict exactly how investors would react to success for remdesivir. But if Gilead's results show the drug is really effective at treating COVID-19, the panic that has prevailed in recent days could subside and set the stage for an overall stock market rebound.
The oil and gas industry began to feel the impact early this year as worries increased that COVID-19 could cause demand to decline as people canceled travel plans. And that's what happened. Then the situation grew even worse after Russia kicked off an oil price war.
Shares of ExxonMobil (XOM -1.90%) promptly tumbled, eventually plunging close to 50%. As the biggest player in the oil and gas industry, as ExxonMobil goes, so goes the rest of the industry. That's why the stabilization of the stock and any hints of a solid bounce are pivotal in signaling the end of the current market correction.
It's encouraging that ExxonMobil is holding fast to its strategy of "leaning into this market when others have pulled back." That could pay off nicely for the company when oil prices move higher.
Make no mistake, oil prices will make a comeback at some point in the future. When they do, ExxonMobil's shares will move in lockstep. I suspect the overall stock market could, too.
3. Walt Disney
There's no question that the tourism industry is really getting shellacked by the COVID-19 pandemic. One bellwether stock to monitor to know when the tide has turned is Walt Disney (DIS -2.72%).
Disney closed two Asian resorts in late January after an onslaught of novel coronavirus infections were reported in China. On Thursday, the company also announced the closure of its Disneyland theme park in California and Walt Disney World park in Florida through the rest of March.
For now, the company still plans to open its Avengers Campus on July 18 at its Disney California Adventure park. The new Avengers Campus will feature attractions including an interactive Spider-Man adventure and training with Wakanda warriors from Black Panther. If anything can tempt customers to venture out from the relative safety of their homes, this highly anticipated addition to Disney's theme parks just might be it.
But Disney's stock chart isn't the happiest place on earth right now. Shares are down more than 30% from the highs set earlier this year. If Disney stock begins to rebound, it should be a really good sign that there's a light at the end of the tunnel for the overall stock market.