The FTSE 100 lurched lower this morning following yesterday’s breaking news about a new variant of the Covid-19 virus.
The UK government has imposed “new precautionary travel restrictions” and added six African countries to its travel red list. Meanwhile, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has the new variant “under investigation”. However, no instances of the variant have yet been found in the UK.
The government’s response comes after several public voices criticised slower actions taken earlier in the pandemic. And maybe the swift move is justifiable because of the nature of this new strain of the virus.
The gov.uk website explains that the new variant includes “a large number of spike protein mutations” alongside “mutations in other parts of the viral genome”. And the government said these potentially biologically significant mutations could change the behaviour of the virus regarding vaccines, treatments and transmissibility.
Although the future evolution of the virus is unknowable, I’m not expecting another crash in the markets as we saw in 2020. And that’s even if this new variant gains some traction. Back then, the virus was completely unknown before it hit the world. And there were no vaccines or proven treatments for the disease.
So, I reckon the stock market crash developed because of the unknowns and the widespread shutting down of economic activity. It led to some dubbing it a once-in-a-lifetime event and an opportunity to buy cheap shares.
My guess is the world of science will likely be all over the latest developments regarding the virus. And treatments and vaccines will evolve to fight the threat. However, nothing is certain, of course.
Investing for the long haul
But I’m inclined to use worrisome news affecting the stock market as an opportunity to search for quality stocks selling at better prices. It’s been reassuring for me to see how businesses have been so resourceful and adapted to the new world featuring coronavirus. I believe many enterprises will adapt again if they need to. And in the long term, I may be pleased that I bought shares when they were on offer.
And in the past, well-known investors have done well with stocks by adopting a long-term perspective. Warren Buffett is known for shopping for shares when the economic clouds are in the sky or when most people are worried about something. It’s when he tends to get the best prices for the stocks of what he calls “wonderful” businesses. And he once said of the other side of the equation: “You pay a high price for a cheery consensus.”
So, with my long-term investing perspective, I’m shopping for shares and working hard with my watch list. There’s some worrisome news in the headlines right now. But I’m trying to look ahead and imagine what businesses and stocks will look like in five, 10, 15 and 20 years from now. Although nothing is certain or guaranteed, I reckon many will have done well by then.
I don’t think this new variant will cause a once-in-a-lifetime-style crash any time soon, so I’m buying shares now to hold for the long term. However, I could be wrong with my assessment of the situation.
Nevertheless, I'm starting my research here...
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Kevin Godbold has no position in any of the shares mentioned. The Motley Fool UK has no position in any of the shares mentioned. Views expressed on the companies mentioned in this article are those of the writer and therefore may differ from the official recommendations we make in our subscription services such as Share Advisor, Hidden Winners and Pro. Here at The Motley Fool we believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.