Wall Street optimism on coronavirus not shared on Main Street

CNBC’s Jim Cramer said Tuesday he believes that Wall Street’s recent optimism over an apparent slowdown in coronavirus cases is not shared by many Americans on Main Street.

“There is a happy days are here again Wall Street impression versus what I hear … people saying, ‘Can I get a mask? How do I get a mask? Do I want an N95?'” Cramer said on “Squawk on the Street.” 

Cramer’s comments came ahead of Tuesday’s opening bell, as U.S. stock futures were indicating a strong jump, one day after the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained more than 1,600 points or 7.7%.

The Dow was up more than 800 points at one point Tuesday morning before giving back a bulk of those gains. As of Monday’s close, blue chips were still in a bear market as defined by declines of at least 20% from recent 52-week highs. The Dow closed at a record high in February.

Investors are responding to an apparent slowdown in new U.S. cases of COVID-19 and optimistic comments from politicians such as President Donald Trump. Trump said Monday evening there was “tremendous light at the end of the tunnel,” and spoke positively about the development of therapeutics.

Citing recent COVID-19 case data, JPMorgan’s Marko Kolanovic recently told clients that a “limited reopening” of the U.S. economy could happen soon. 

On Tuesday morning, veteran market strategist Jeff Saut told CNBC the S&P 500 could top its February all-time highs by as much as 6% this year. “I think the bottom is in at 2,191 on March 23. I think we trade up from here,” he added.

“Look, I like it. I love optimism .. but I don’t like getting sick,” Cramer said, adding he feels there’s more trepidation toward restarting something resembling a normal life than the stock market’s recent moves are showing.

Cramer specifically pointed to shares of Darden Restaurants, the parent of Olive Garden. The stock was up around 17% at one stage Tuesday morning. “I say to myself, was Olive Garden oversold because we’re further along in terms of COVID, or do people think that, you know what, I’m back in business?”

Even if Olive Garden were to reopen, in a limited manner, with less tables than usual, Cramer said there are still concerns about people out and near people who could be sick.

“I don’t want to risk it. I think America doesn’t want to risk it,” the “Mad Money” host said, noting it was only late last week when the availability of ventilators in the U.S. was the dominant narrative.

“Now here we’re thinking about, you know what, I cannot wait to take a Southwest Air to Houston,” Cramer said. “I can wait.”

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