Wall Street's Biggest Bear Still Sees S&P 500 Pain. Just Not as Much

(Bloomberg) -- Peter Cecchini, Wall Street’s biggest equity bear, has been humbled but not convinced by the market rally.

In a week when the S&P 500 hit an all-time high, the global chief market strategist at Cantor Fitzgerald boosted his year-end target for the benchmark to 2,500 from 2,390. The new forecast represents a 15 percent drop from the current level, still putting him as the most pessimistic among 25 strategists tracked by Bloomberg.

Wall Street's Biggest Bear Still Sees S&P 500 Pain. Just Not as Much

Stocks have surged this year, sending the S&P 500 up 17 percent, as investors jubilate over a dovish Federal Reserve and bet a profit slowdown will be short-lived. Such optimism is misplaced, according to Cecchini, who had urged investors to buy the dip in January following the sell-off in late 2018, a call that proved prescient.

“We do not foresee an inflection in U.S. economic growth or S&P earnings growth in the second half as global growth continues to slow and costs rise,” he said. “We also do not foresee a Fed cut as likely. With slower growth and a Fed that is slow to cut, we think equities will struggle in the second half.”

The reluctance to embrace stocks is echoing sentiment in a market where many see the momentum unlikely to continue given persistent uncertainties over corporate earnings and monetary policy. Hedge funds have largely sat out the rally, while professional forecasters see little room for gains in coming months. The median forecast from strategists points to 2,950 in December, slightly above the S&P 500’s current level of 2,927.

Cecchini joined a growing list of prognosticators who have been forced to adjust their views amid the relentless rally. At least two other strategists have turned more bullish over the past month, including Tom Lee at Fundstrat and Credit Suisse’s Jonathan Golub.

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