What happened

Shares of travel-related companies Expedia Group (EXPE -2.01%), Booking Holdings (BKNG -10.15%), and TripAdvisor (TRIP 1.19%) surged in early trading Tuesday. But all three stocks have subsided somewhat since.

As of 12:30 p.m. EDT, TripAdvisor stock remains up 4.2%, Booking is still up 6.4%, and Expedia is hanging on to an 11.1% gain.

Collage of an airplane, coronaviruses, and a world map

Image source: Getty Images.

So what

What we're seeing here appears to be (yet another) broad-based rush back into stocks, fueled by investors who are encouraged by the recent news from Marketwatch that Italy just reported the lowest number of new coronavirus infections in nearly three weeks, while COVID-19 mortality rates declined for four straight days (up until today) in Spain. In New York State, Gov. Andrew Cuomo says that COVID-19 deaths have been "effectively flat for two days."  

Now what

If this is the beginning of the end (or even just the end of the beginning) of the coronavirus pandemic, then that would certainly be good news for an economy that's almost certainly been tipped into recession at this point. If the rate of new coronavirus infections is starting to decline, or even leveling off, and if the mortality rate is doing likewise (first in Italy, then in the U.S.), then we can start looking forward to a day when stay-at-home orders start easing, social distancing becomes less mandatory, and people might begin traveling again.

That would certainly be good news for stocks like TripAdvisor, Booking Holdings, and Expedia, which make their money from discretionary spending.

But one day's data does not a trend make. On Tuesday, for example, Spain noted that its coronavirus mortality rate ticked back up again after four days of declines. Data from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control shows that new COVID-19 infections also increased slightly today. And they accelerated significantly in the U.S., with 5,000 more new cases reported on Tuesday than on Monday.