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US stocks: So last year? 2014 is all about Europe

Monday, 20 Jan 2014 | 8:06 AM ET
Further 5-10% rally in U.S. equities ahead: Pro
Monday, 20 Jan 2014 | 3:30 AM ET
Scott Minerd, chief investment officer at Guggenheim Partners LLC, says U.S. stocks are likely to see a further rise as growth could see a "surprise to the upside".

U.S equities could see a rally of between 5-10 percent this year, according to the chief investment officer of Guggenheim Partners, but it is European stocks that investors are eyeing up.

The S&P 500 surged 30 percent last year and that, Scott Minerd told CNBC, the momentum could continue into 2014.

"Historically when you've had the sort of performance we had in 2013, typically the momentum carries on through the first half of the year, so I'm looking for another maybe 5 to 10 percent for U.S. equities."

But Minerd said his company, which manages more than $190 billion in assets, is focusing more on European stocks as the "valuation gap" between the U.S. and Europe opens up.

(Read more: Great rotation: From equities to... equities?)

"I particularly think the periphery in Europe looks exceptionally attractive and I think the downside risks for the time being in Europe are probably fairly muted," Minerd told CNBC in a TV interview.

"Even if we do see a continued slowdown in prices and we were to have some sort of threat to the European recovery, I think 'doctor' Draghi (European Central Bank President Mario Draghi) has made it clear, he is going to hold this thing together no matter what and the ECB will resort to using the printing press if it has to."

Alexandr Tovstenko | E+ | Getty Images

A 'eurotation'?

The global equity rally in 2013 was fuelled by the U.S. Federal Reserve's $85 billion-a-month bond-buying program and an improving growth picture for the world economy.

In addition to the stellar performance of the S&P 500, the Nasdaq index saw gains of 38 percent, and the Dow Jones was up 27 percent, recording its best year since 1995.

European indices also saw relatively solid performances with Germany's Dax rising 23 percent and the FTSE 100 closing 2013 up 14 percent.

(Read more: Value trap? Stock bulls grow fearful of Europe backlash)

But with a nascent recovery set to take hold and the ECB committing to ultra-loose monetary policy, many investors echo Minerd's call.

"We would say the U.S. recovery looks a little bit more robust potentially than the European one and we think that is in the valuations. Having said that, I would concur that probably the ECB is going to play the same game that we've seen in other central banks," Johan Jooste, head of the London investment office at Julius Baer, told CNBC in a phone interview.

"Some of the things we've seen out of the periphery we find quite encouraging. So yes I would say there's a subtle slant away from the markets that have done really well to start looking at Europe."

Threat of 'policy errors'

Despite a bullish call towards equities, Minerd warns that a "policy error" from one of the central banks could derail the markets.

(Read more: More bang for your investing buck outside US?)

The Fed decided in December to "taper" its bond-buying program by $10 billion. Analysts believe the central bank will continue to cut its asset purchases further through the year. But misjudging the pace of the taper could disrupt the markets, according to Minerd.

"The United States has basically baked in an expectation that we are going to get $10 billion worth of asset purchase reductions per Fed meeting," he said.

"I think anything faster than that would probably not be well-taken by the markets and I think the Fed's aware of that. So I doubt that they are going to speed it up, but if they did, that could be the kind of policy error that could damage the markets."

—By CNBC's Arjun Kharpal. Follow him on Twitter @ArjunKharpal

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