Shares of travel stocks jumped in trading on Friday on hope that business and leisure travel would begin sooner than previously anticipated. President Trump's Opening Up America Again plan would restart travel as soon as a few weeks from now, although states will ultimately make the call on when businesses can reopen.
Marriott International (MAR 2.33%), TripAdvisor (TRIP 3.76%), Expedia Group (EXPE 1.66%), Carnival (CCL 1.97%), and Royal Caribbean Cruises (RCL 1.09%) all jumped at least 5%, with one popping over 10%. Shares settled some as the day went on, but there was still a sense of relief in the travel industry that a turnaround may be on the horizon.
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President Trump's outline to reopen American businesses isn't an ironclad set of rules, but it's intended to be used by state and local officials to outline when businesses can open again. One area that might be a surprise is that in the second phase of the elimination of the shelter-in-place guidelines, it recommends that nonessential travel can resume. This could be less than a month away in some circumstances.
What's not yet clear is when these phases will happen on the state or local level. That appears to be up to governors at this point, and each state will handle it a little differently.
At this point, investors appear to be grasping for any sign of hope they can find. A plan to open the economy up again and reintroduce travel is at least seen as a positive sign for now, and that's why shares are popping.
There may be a plan in place to get travel going again, but the travel industry is far from being out of the woods. If COVID-19 cases begin to increase in the U.S., the country could be shut down again, and parts of it may go in and out of some level of quarantine for months.
Even when the virus gets under some level of control, it's not clear what kind of economic activity will be left. I would be cautious jumping into travel stocks right now, even if the market is seeing positive signs for the industry in the short term.