A trader works in the S&P 500 pit at the CME Group’s Chicago Board of Trade in Chicago. (Photographer: Tim Boyle/Bloomberg)

No, Worst Probably Not Over Yet for S&P 500, These Analysts Say

(Bloomberg) -- Should U.S. stocks keep going at the pace of the past two days, they’ll hit a record before the weekend. But a few Wall Street analysts say pain in equities probably isn’t over yet.

For one, look at history. From 1992 through January, there were four instances when convulsions like this month’s pushed the 10-week rate of change in volatility to an extreme level, according to Canaccord Genuity’s Tony Dwyer. The S&P 500 Index gained on average 5.6 percent after the instances, according to the firm’s data that exclude the market jitters of 2008. Each time, stocks caved in again after the rebound.

The S&P 500 is up 4.9 percent since a 116 percent spike in volatility pushed the rate of volatility’s change to 125 on Canaccord’s rating scale, in the extreme territory.

“The comfort of the rebound should soon fade, either from fear of the Fed, disappointing data, or some combination of the two,” Dwyer said on Monday. “Last week did very little to change our expectation for a potential retest of the ‘shock drop’ low, followed by a very choppy few months that should set the stage for a second-half ramp.”

Another issue is the number of stocks changing hands during the rebound. Equities in the New York Stock Exchange Composite Index have gained 5.9 percent since Feb. 8, but their trading volume has been gradually falling to just half of what it was during the rebound’s early days.

The rebound in the S&P 500 looks like “wave B” in an A-B-C correction that’s still taking place, Russ Visch, a technical analyst at BMO Nesbitt Burns, said in a note on Monday. While it’s not clear when the retest of February’s lows will come -- “wave C” in this model -- the gauge will likely retest the 2600 - 2650 level, he said.

The good news is, the sell-off will present a buying opportunity. Dwyer still expects the S&P to hit 3100 level at the year-end, the second-most bullish forecast among Wall Street strategists.

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