The U.S. benchmark S&P 500 stock index has marched steadily higher throughout 2019, ducking and dodging manifold geopolitical headwinds, including the U.S.-China trade war, Brexit, and kinetic conflicts in the Middle East, as well as a stalling out of corporate earnings growth, but it is still on pace for its best calendar-year performance since 2013.
Forecasting the performance of the stock market in such an environment is an unenviable task as analysts have very little history to draw on to predict the effects of a trade war between the world’s two largest economies.
Intermittent pullbacks, triggered by unease over Federal Reserve policy or the international trade dispute, were scattered through the year, with the S&P 500 index SPX, +0.27% falling 6.6% from April 30 to June 3, 5.2% between July 26 and Aug. 27 and 4.0% between Sept. 19 and Oct. 2.
Each of the retrenchments were catalyzed by macroeconomic concerns such as fear of a Federal Reserve that would not be accommodative enough to shield the U.S. economy from the effects of President Trump’s erratic trade protectionism. In other words, there have been plenty of opportunities for bullish strategists to turn bearish or vice versa.
Here are 15 of the top strategists on Wall Street ranked by the proximity of their year-end targets to the S&P 500’s current record level, as of Thursday’s close of 3,085.18. (Where strategists gave a range, MarketWatch used the midpoint).
In early November, the bulls have the upper hand, and it’s clear that most on Wall Street have not expected the stock market to be as resilient as it has been, but with seven weeks left in the year, there is plenty of time for bears to win the day.