After the market's dramatic plunge in August, strategists' year-end targets were looking like long shots. But as the S&P closed out its best month in four years, it seems like stocks could be rising to the occasion.
In October, the Dow Jones industrial average and S&P 500 rose more than 8 percent in five straight weeks of gains. The Nasdaq composite ended October up more than 9 percent. And stocks have continued their rally into November, with major indices opening up more than 0.5 percent on Monday.
For the past six years, stocks have surpassed strategist estimates. But for 2015, many have called for the S&P to end at or above 2,200, which is 5 percent higher than where the index opened on Monday.
Technician John Kosar of Asbury Research said he sees stocks returning to their highs of the year in the next couple months, based on the recent run-up of total net assets in the SPDR S&P 500 ETF (SPY).
"Once that trend of expanding assets really caught fire at the beginning of October, that's when we had a nice move higher," Kosar said Friday on CNBC's "Trading Nation." "Those assets are about as high as they've been now in several months; as long as they continue to expand, we're going higher."
On Monday, the S&P traded within about 2 percent of its all-time intraday high of 2,134.
But given that markets turned from chaos to calm very quickly, Eddy Elfenbein, editor of the Crossing Wall Street blog, said year-end targets are irrelevant for investors.
"Everything looked dismal just a few weeks ago, and suddenly everything is so rosy now," Elfenbein said on Friday. "We thought China was going to bring us down, now it looks like we're going to go over 2,200."
Instead, Elfenbein said investors should rely on slow and steady returns over the longer term, rather than bet on big rallies.
"The real key in the market is made in those slow, boring days, where the market gradually goes upward and upward and upward," he said. "That's what investors need to focus on."