Jun 21, 2021 - Economy

Investors still view COVID as a market risk for the second half of 2021

Dice with Covid-19 as the numbers.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

COVID-19 isn't as big of a concern for U.S. investors as it was a year ago. But market experts tell Axios it's still a risk to watch as investors look to the second half of the year.

Why it matters: Many Americans remain unvaccinated. The spread of the more infectious "Delta" variant could prove disruptive to economic activity, and in turn, could spark volatility in markets.

What they’re saying: According to BofA’s June Global Fund Manager Survey, 10% of investors continued to identify COVID-19 as the biggest risk.

  • "As we head toward the end of the year, there will undoubtedly be a COVID scare — an outbreak somewhere — that could rile the market for a bit," RBA strategist Richard Bernstein tells Axios.
  • "COVID — vaccines, variants — remains an important issue to monitor," says RBC’s Calvasina. But investors "almost universally are baking in an optimistic virus backdrop."
  • "I would not declare victory yet," Fed chair Jerome Powell said on Wednesday. "I just would encourage people to continue to get vaccinated."

Threat level: The degree to which an event will rattle markets is inversely related to how much people are already thinking about it.

  • As Calvasina tells Axios: "I worry more about the things that aren’t on investors’ horizons at all."

The bottom line: For now, the pandemic's direct impact on business is nearly gone — but not forgotten.

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