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Wall Street Retreats on Coronavirus Woes

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Our pre-market economic data this week has a backloaded schedule, to tomorrow — Initial Jobless Claims, Durable Goods, revision to Q1 GDP — and Friday — Personal Income/Consumer Spending, Core Inflation. Normally when this market is similarly data-devoid, it sends futures upward. However, with a nearly 2-week winning streak on Nasdaq and indexes routinely closing in the green, futures are lower today.

Every so often, profit-taking takes some of the risk out of portfolios and gives investors a breather to re-assess what’s going on in the market. Nothing has changed much of late: COVID-19 cases continue to creep back up in the U.S. overall, with downward trajectories in states like New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Illinois offset by notable jumps in highly populated states like California, Texas and Florida. Head of NIH Allergies & Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci said he saw a “disturbing surge” in coronavirus cases as of late.

News items like this can urge investors to pause their bullishness on the Grand Reopening of America. We remain in the “first wave” of contagion in the pandemic, which has disappointed healthcare professionals in this country hoping to get a respite from a siege of cases in the Tri-State area during all of April and May. It also keeps the reopening of companies spotty, depending on whether services are necessarily indoors, where the disease is known to spread. So while the stock market has been behaving as if a “V-shaped recovery” is a foregone conclusion, traders look to be pumping the breaks on this sentiment a bit.

GNC Holdings (GNC - Free Report) filed for bankruptcy late Tuesday, liquidating $130 million and shuttering at least 2/3rds of its vitamin and wellness retail shops. The Pittsburgh-based company has seen its market capitalization dwindle to around $69 million, and has missed quarterly earnings estimates 5 times since Q3 2016 — 3 of them significantly, including in its most recent quarter.

Dell Technologies (DELL - Free Report) is reportedly looking to take action with some of its 81% stake in WMWare (VMW - Free Report) , causing both stocks to rise in late trading Tuesday — 15% and 8%, respectively. Perhaps the PC maker will decide to shed some of its VMWare holdings, or perhaps buy the software company outright. The Wall Street Journal said that no decision is imminent at this stage.

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