COVID stimulus money being spent on travel

Analysts such as Peter Tchir, head of macro strategy at Academy Securities, have questioned whether the latest round of stimulus will ultimately find its way into a stock market that’s already priced for its imminent arrival.

“I am told to be prepared for a wave of buying as stimulus checks hit the account,” Tchir wrote in a note. “I cannot help but fight this view.”

Yet not everyone is buying into the vacation zeitgeist.

A Bank of America Global Research survey showed that 53% of those making less than $30,000 a year planned to save, invest or use the extra money to pay down debt. Historically that figure comes in at a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it 2%. And for those among the top fifth of earners, 64% said they plan to put their checks to work.

Brokerages aren’t conceding the new influx of cash just yet. In an attempt to lure “stimmy” money to its platform, Robinhood Markets unveiled a new promotion that rewards clients who deposit more than $200 between March 15 and March 28 with between $10 and $250.

How a change in stimulus spending habits will weigh on the stock market is up for debate. With the economy set to grow at the fastest pace since the 1980s, stocks can power higher without retail cash flowing directly into shares. That’s especially true if it the cash flows into the real economy, which could ultimately bring record valuations back in line with historical norms.

To Chris Gaffney, president of world markets at TIAA Bank, some of the stimulus money might still find its way toward stocks. Last year, when checks were sent out, there were few opportunities to spend it because many activities were restricted. Still, he says, this round is different.

“There’s an opportunity for those individuals that get these checks to spend them on travel, entertainment, leisure — those sectors are all opening back up — instead of putting them into their accounts or putting them into savings,” he said.

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