Investors were spooked by a pickup in coronavirus cases in South Korea and triggered a sell-off on the stock market, CNBC's Jim Cramer said Thursday.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 128 points, the S&P 500 declined 0.38% and the Nasdaq Composite fell 0.67% during the trading day, though the major averages were down even more earlier in the session.
"Breathers like this one can extend the life of a rally," the "Mad Money" host said. "But without good news on the virus, I'm pretty certain that we'll have more breathers down the pike, so be prepared."
South Korea officials reported that the number of people diagnosed with the novel coronavirus, called COVID-19, just about doubled overnight, to 104 confirmed cases. Dr. Oliver Morgan, the director of health emergency information at the World Health Organization, said, though, that it "doesn't signal a particular change in global epidemiology."
Wall Street, however, did receive a basket of positive news. Cramer called it an "odd day for the market to take a dive."
U.S. Federal Reserve officials revealed data that suggest the manufacturing economy could be in the midst of a rebound, after taking hits from U.S.-China trade tensions in 2019.
After a tense Democratic debate in Las Vegas on Wednesday night, investors are increasingly convinced that President Donald Trump will win reelection in November if Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., wins the nomination, the host said.
Procter & Gamble warned that the coronavirus outbreak could cause a slowdown in its business, but the stock rallied nearly 1% anyway, Cramer noted.
"Look, all sell-offs are not created equal. Some are a lot worse than others. This was not a slash-and-burn sell-off, it was more like the kind of pruning you do to trees that are too near the power lines," Cramer said. "I like it when the market gets pruned because trees grow back, and hopefully they grow back stronger, slower [and] steadier."