Stock markets took a turn for the worse on Friday. With the S&P 500 down 2.9% as of 12:50 p.m. EDT, and the Dow down a more substantial 3.1%, it's starting to look like the broad-based three-day rally that began on Tuesday is coming to an end.
Shares of travel and leisure stocks are being hit particularly hard, with travel reservations specialist Booking Holdings (NASDAQ:BKNG) seeing its shares slide 7.1%, travel information website TripAdvisor (NASDAQ:TRIP) down 9.1%, and restaurant reviewer Yelp (NYSE:YELP) off 14.8%.
There doesn't appear to be any stock-specific news affecting any of the three companies.
That being said, there are some macroeconomic factors at work here. For one thing, there's the unemployment report. It's 24-hour-old news, but if investors were distracted by the good news of the Senate finally passing the stimulus package on Thursday, and were willing to overlook the effect of 3.3 million jobs just lost, they might be finally paying more attention to the jobless figure today.
Adding to the bad news, Johns Hopkins University just reported that there are now more than 558,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 worldwide. Worse news for U.S. investors, this nation now has more confirmed cases than any other country: more than 86,000.
Topping it all off, U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams just dropped a bombshell on Good Morning America. Heading off happy talk about a quick end to this health crisis, Adams warned that "some places [in the U.S.] haven't hit their peak yet." He said that it's possible there will be pockets in America where the virus won't be completely defeated -- or economies released from lockdown -- before "Easter, Memorial Day, or [even] Labor Day."
There's no guarantee that President Trump will get his wish to be able to open the economy back up by April 12 (Easter). This thing could well drag on until May 25 (Memorial Day), or even Sept. 7 (Labor Day).
Suffice it to say that's a long time to wait for a vacation -- or an evening out at a restaurant. No wonder investors in travel and leisure stocks are nervous.