Monday's stock market rally continued into Tuesday, with shares of cruise line stocks and travel and tourism stocks alike benefiting as investors look beyond delta coronavirus (and omicron coronavirus) to a hopeful economic reopening. Indeed, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average surges 1.6%, according to CNBC, "travel-related stocks" are leading today's rally.
And as of 11:10 a.m. ET, shares of Carnival (CCL -2.77%) (CUK -2.91%) are up a solid 2%, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings (NCLH -7.45%) is gaining 2.6%, and space tourism pioneer Virgin Galactic (SPCE -5.53%) is up 4.6%.
So is the pandemic over? Hardly. But, as CNBC quoted City Index senior financial market analyst Fiona Cincotta, "The markets are dialing back [fear] on the potential economic damage that Omicron could cause as initial reports suggest that the new COVID variant is less severe."
On Sunday, White House Chief Medical Advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci called the latest data on the omicron variant of COVID-19 "a bit encouraging." He explained that, while it appears "omicron has a transmission advantage" over other variants of the coronavirus, the illness omicron causes lacks "a great degree of severity" -- or as other experts have commented, the disease causes only "extremely mild" symptoms.
Now what does this mean for travel and tourism-related stocks like cruise lines and airlines -- and even the nascent industry of space tourism? On the one hand, it suggests that the danger of infection from omicron is even greater than the danger of infection from the delta variant of COVID-19. That's a negative for stocks and an observation that led to a sell-off in stock markets once it was realized.
On the other hand, it appears that once infected, most patients suffering from omicron may survive the disease just fine -- and that's a positive for tourism stocks. It dampens fears of going out and enjoying life in close proximity to other revelers (for example, aboard isolated cruise ships at sea, or within cramped flying tubes in the air). What's more, travelers now have the assurance that drug companies including Merck and Pfizer may soon have pills on the market that can alleviate coronavirus symptoms -- and as we learned this morning, GlaxoSmithKline has a new monoclonal antibody therapy that appears to target omicron in particular quite well.
All of this is adding up to investors getting optimistic that there is light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel -- and they'll probably right about that, eventually. This doesn't mean, however, that investors aren't jumping the gun this morning, bidding up shares of still deeply unprofitable companies without any assurance of how much longer the pandemic will last, or how far away profitability still is.
While patience may be a virtue, impatience such as we're seeing today may be the bigger risk for investors.