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Why famed bear David Tice is scared of betting against stocks today

Longtime stock market bear David Tice is easing up on the growls.

The president of Tice Capital, known for having run the Prudent Bear Fund. is closely associated with his ursine views. In fact, his own website declares that he "has taken the role of a Cassandra to warn investors about the dangers of investing near the end of a secular bull market."

But in a Friday interview on CNBC's "Trading Nation," Tice took a more nuanced stance, even going so far as to caution investors about the potential perils of betting against stocks.

"I'm warning people that I would not be short today," Tice said. Right now, stocks are "dangerous," but the rally "could go on for a while."

Indeed, Tice does raise some familiar concerns about equities. He notes that valuations are at historically elevated levels and that stocks appear to have broadly benefited from global central banks' zero, or even subzero, interest rate policies.

On the other hand, he acknowledges near-term fundamentals look decent, with earnings on the rise and an economic backdrop that looks decent. And even more important, from Tice's perspective, is that "stock market participation is very low," so there is plenty of fresh money that could flow into U.S. equities.

"Most bear markets begin at a level of extreme froth," which does not describe the current environment, he said. "Therefore it's possible — as much as I hate to say it — this market could go a little bit higher," perhaps topping out in nine to 15 months, according to Tice.

Still, since he believes that equity prices are not adequately supported by fundamentals, Tice advises investors to "hedge" by owning gold or gold stocks.

To be sure, Tice's market calls have not always proved prescient. He has repeatedly called for a stock market crash and gold spike, predicting in 2012 that the S&P 500 was heading to 1,000 while gold would hit $2,500. Instead it was gold that crashed while stocks rose to record highs, and on Monday, the S&P was at 2,460 while gold was at $1,235.

So far this year, the S&P 500 has risen by 10 percent while gold prices are up 7.1 percent.

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Trading Nation is a multimedia financial news program that shows investors and traders how to use the news of the day to their advantage. This is where experts from across the financial world – including macro strategists, technical analysts, stock-pickers, and traders who specialize in options, currencies, and fixed income – come together to find the best ways to capitalize on recent developments in the market. Trading Nation: Where headlines become opportunities.

Brian Sullivan

Brian Sullivan is co-anchor of CNBC's "Power Lunch" (M-F,1PM-3PM ET), one of the network's longest running programs, as well as the host of the daily investing program "Trading Nation." He is also a frequent guest on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" and other NBC properties.

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