Ebola fear factor subsides in U.S. financial markets

Mon Oct 20, 2014 6:34pm EDT
 
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By Yasmeen Abutaleb

NEW YORK Oct 20 (Reuters) - Investors should expect more calm to return to U.S. equity markets after some of the most volatile trading since 2012 as the 21-day incubation period for Ebola passes for many in Texas without new infections.

The market's big losses last week were largely attributed to concerns over global growth and plummeting oil prices. But fears that Ebola could spread in the United States after three people in Dallas were diagnosed with the hemorrhagic fever added more than a little froth to the market's recent convulsions.

By Monday, however, it was evident that investors were growing more sanguine over the Ebola threat as 43 people who came into contact with an Ebola-infected patient in Dallas cleared the 21-day incubation period for the virus.

"It was a short-term scare," said Howard Simons, president of Rosewood Trading in Chicago.

Several of the stocks that got hit hardest by the fear - including airlines and hotels - bounced back sharply on Monday. Just as notably, several stocks that rode the scare higher, such as hazmat suit maker Lakeland Industries Inc and Tekmira Pharmaceuticals Corp, which is testing a drug to treat the virus, fell by more than 30 percent over the past three sessions after rising over 200 percent.

"Anybody who's buying some sort of panic-related stock paid too much and that's that," Simons said. "You do stupid things; you lose money."

Panic over a possible Ebola outbreak in the United States escalated after a Liberian man became the first person in the United States diagnosed with the virus on Sept. 30. Two of the nurses caring for him, Nina Pham and Amber Vinson, also contracted the virus, and Vinson flew on a commercial flight one day before she was diagnosed.

A cruise ship was denied docking by Belize and Mexico last week because a Texas hospital lab worker on board might have come in contact with test samples from the Liberian man, who died on Oct. 8. The worker has tested negative for the virus.   Continued...