The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index is heading for a decline, according to strategists at Royal Bank of Canada and JPMorgan Chase & Co., who disagreed on the timing for the dip in reports today.
Higher-than-forecast U.S. jobless claims this week and China’s measures to cool its economy may spur a “correction” in the benchmark gauge for U.S. equities in the first quarter, according to Myles Zyblock, chief institutional strategist at RBC Capital Markets. Thomas Lee, his counterpart at JPMorgan, said the S&P 500 Index will continue to gain before peaking at about 1,333 in March or April.
“We’re going to run out of steam at that level,” Lee, the chief U.S. equity strategist at the New York-based bank, said in a telephone interview today. The drop will start when “the hazardously bullish people lose conviction.”
The S&P 500 Index is poised to advance for the seventh straight week, the longest streak since 2007, as stronger-than-expected corporate earnings have tempered concerns that a slowdown in the global economic recovery will hurt stocks. U.S. first-time jobless claims rose to the highest level since October in the first week of the year, missing economists’ estimates. China’s central bank said on its website today it raised lenders’ reserve requirements to rein in liquidity.
“The market set-up is already there for a correction,” Zyblock wrote in his note. The decline will create a “buying opportunity” in “economically sensitive and globally centric” shares, he said.
The proportion of investment newsletters that anticipate a correction, or 10 percent decline in the market, rose to a two- month high of 25 percent in the week ended Jan. 4, according to Investors Intelligence.
The S&P 500 rose 0.3 percent to 1,287.79 at 12:05 p.m. in New York today. The benchmark measure has advanced 1.2 percent this week.
U.S. fourth-quarter earnings season started this week. Lee wrote in today’s note earnings results have been better than forecast for 61 percent of the S&P 500 companies to report so far. He estimated earnings growth will fall to 9 percent from a year earlier in the first quarter before accelerating to a “double-digit” rate, boosted by an expansion in gross domestic product.
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