The U.S. economy is shifting into high gear, and stocks will be pulled higher in the tailwinds, according to an optimistic assessment from Bob Doll, chief equity strategist at Nuveen Asset Management.
Doll noted the recent correction is solidly in the rear view mirror, yet investors still appear on edge.
Not to worry, Doll reassured.
"At this point, we are forecasting that gross domestic product should expand by an average of 3 percent over the coming quarters. This is hardly the fastest pace we've seen over the last several decades, but it does represent a higher gear than what the United States has experienced since the Great Recession ended," he wrote in his weekly market commentary
In Doll's view, U.S. economic growth should even be strong enough to give a boost to the broader global economy. "It should also be strong enough to support continued growth in corporate earnings, which, in turn, should provide a tailwind to equity prices."
One of the dominant effects on the domestic economy in recent months has been falling oil prices. Energy producers may be adversely affected, but Doll says the overall economic impact presents more benefits than risks.
"Falling oil and commodity prices have stoked global deflation fears and are putting pressure on energy producers (including the U.S. energy industry). Ultimately, however, we believe that falling oil and commodity prices are mostly positive for the global economy. Lower prices are boosting consumer spending, and at the end of the day we believe falling oil and commodity prices will prove to be reflationary rather than deflationary. "
Doll predicted both consumer spending and consumer confidence are headed upward in coming months. The cloudy components to his sunny view are the impact of a struggling eurozone, complacency about the timing of Federal Reserve rate hikes and continued political gridlock.
"We expect volatility to continue and remain on the watch for risks that could result in another pullback in prices (for example, the timing of the Fed's decision to enact its first rate hike). Over the long term, however, we are retaining our positive view toward most risk assets, including equities."
Some stock market prognosticators are starting to get out their longer-range binoculars for the U.S. stock market.
Credit Suisse, for instance, sees a good first half for equities in 2015, with some weakness showing up in the back half of the coming year.
said Credit Suisse's 2015 outlook calls for the S&P 500 to hit 2,200 by mid-2015, but cautions that Fed rate hikes could trim results later on in the year.
Credit Suisse also sees continuing declines in gold prices next year, perhaps all the way down to $950 per ounce, and credit oil that could fall another 25 percent.
At hedge fund Omega Advisors, Vice Chairman Steven Einhorn sees benign market conditions heading into 2015.
He told attendees at a Reuters investment conference
in New York this week that the bull market is being driven by steady economic growth and corporate takeovers.
"My expectation is for the Standard & Poor's 500 to gain 7 percent to 9 percent in 2015," he told the crowd, according to Reuters' coverage of the event.
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