Parts of the American economy are slowly reopening, and investor sentiment about the prospects of post-pandemic society is improving.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed more than 358 points, or 1.5%, to 24,133.78, stringing together four straight positive trading days for the first time since early February. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite both gained more than 1% to notch their highest closes since early March.
This is not the time, however, to get behind stocks that can perform strong in an economy that's rebounding, CNBC's Jim Cramer advised on Monday, pointing to the big gains in Gap, Carnival Cruise and Live Nation. Those equities have been among the worst-performing components of the benchmark index this year.
"I say not so fast," the "Mad Money" host said. "Look, we all want to go back to normal, but even after we lift the lockdown, the new normal is going to be very different from the old normal. ... For starters, the new normal's a lot less investable."
The outsized advances in Kohl's, PVH, Simon Property Group, Gap, Nordstrom, Tapestry, L Brands, Live Nation Entertainment, MGM Resorts and HanesBrands will be good for trades, but not so much for long-term plays, he added. Each of these names, all tied to troubled retail or nightlife environments, will depend on public confidence about the health crisis in order for business to fully rekindle, he said.
Live Nation shares are 41% in the red year to date, while Kohl's is down 64% this year. The S&P benchmark, by comparison, is off 11%.
"I've got nothing against hope, but it [isn't] a business investment strategy," Cramer said. "So until we get a vaccine, you need to approach this market as though the world has changed."
Government officials across the United States are beginning to shift their attention to easing coronavirus restrictions as the infection rate of the virus declines. More than a dozen states have presented "formal reopening plans," according to Vice President Mike Pence, and states such as Alaska, Georgia, South Carolina, Texas and Tennessee have cleared some nonessential establishments to resume normal business operations within their borders.
Consumer demand, however, won't snap back, as bullish investors may be hoping for, Cramer said. A combination of lingering Covid-19 fears and unprecedented unemployment levels don't warrant that much optimism for the stocks that turned in the biggest gains during Monday's session, he said.
"I think Covid's going to be with us for some time. I expect flare-ups and disappointments and backfires," Cramer said, "and we still don't have enough testing or masking" to smoothly reopen the country.