Newbies, Stymied by COVID-19, Looking to Make Hay in Stock Market

brianoconnell

Whether its boredom, intrigue, or profit opportunity (likely a mixture of all three), more Americans are turning their gaze toward Wall Street, with an eye on making some easy money in the stock market.

As usual, the data tells the story. 

A new survey from Investing.com and SEMrush shows that online searches for "how to invest in the stock market" are up 83% and that trading data shows an uptick on 64% in "new investors." Also, additional searches for the term “stocks to buy” skyrocketed 124 percent from February to April, and 417% year over year, the survey reports.

There's more. 

Investing.com also found that its number of U.S.-based users jumped from 13.1 million in January and February 2020 to 21.5 million in March and April, an increase of more than 64%. 

"Interestingly enough, only a small increase of 12% was seen in May and June (24 million users), signaling that not only was this substantial increase in new investors confined to the stock market crash back in March, but that these new investors are also sticking around for the time being," the report states. "This was a trend not only confined to the U.S. either, with a 60% increase in users seen over March and April, across the investing platform's 44 international editions around the globe.

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The trend accelerated as millions of web surfers followed the trading activity of Dave "Davey Day Trader" Portnoy, the founder of the popular online sports and lifestyle platform Barstool Sports.

“Essentially bored sports bettors shifted their focus to day-trading when the coronavirus pandemic brought sporting events to a halt earlier this year,” says Jesse Cohen, senior analyst at Investing.com. “Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy has become the poster child of this day-trading craze that has taken Wall Street by storm. The big question is how many of these first-time day-traders will stay in the market once sports are back on.”

Market sectors that saw an uptick in page views during the February-to-April timeframe included airlines, cruise lines, and oil companies. While new investors saw these sectors as value picks, given their steady descent during the pandemic, they also saw an opportunity in video conferencing companies like Zoom to make a quick buck or two.

“While market participants are still struggling to understand the true extent of the damage from the fast-spreading virus outbreak, many first-time traders chose to ignore the risk and buy the dip in some of the hardest-hit names in the market,” Cohen says. “In retrospect, that wasn’t such a bad move.”