Despite the rise of the Covid omicron variant, the U.S. and other countries are unlikely to reimpose widespread economic restrictions, and that should be bullish for stocks, CNBC’s Jim Cramer said Wednesday.
“I think we can probably take the prospect of a lockdown off the table. If you go back to the spring of 2020 you saw one industry after another get obliterated as hospital systems got overwhelmed and states shut down their economies in order to flatten the curve. That is not going to happen this time,” the “Mad Money” host said.
The omicron variant, first identified in southern Africa in late November, has fueled a surge in cases in the U.S., particularly in the northeast. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that the variant makes up 90% of the cases in some parts of the country, CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said Wednesday.
Still, the stock market rallied for the second straight day on Wednesday as investors appear to have grown more comfortable with the health risk.
Cramer pointed to the dramatic decline in cases in South Africa with fewer deaths than previous waves, the authorization of a Pfizer antiviral pill by the Food and Drug Administration, and the development of a more comprehensive vaccine by the Department of Defense as reasons for optimism around the country’s ability to handle Covid.
“Schools are not going to close because the administrators have gotten better at handling the virus. And frankly, we don’t have the political will to close all sorts of different enterprises,” Cramer said. “Worst case, we might see some social distancing measures, some hours cut back, but I doubt we shut everything down. Not with the prospect of a take-home pill to treat the virus, a one-shot vaccine on the way and the trajectory of omicron in South Africa and by the way also in the U.K. We’re not going back to March 2020.”
Cramer said that if the outbreak in the U.S. subsides in a few weeks, the “roaring 20s” trade could come back into play. That scenario would be bullish for travel stocks, including cruise lines, and some cyclical companies, he said.
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