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Bear Market Fake-Out - Are Stocks about to Catch Fire?

On Thursday traders were talking about the potential of an S&P surge -- as much as 100 points or more -- by the end of the year. It seems almost out of nowhere a string of fundamentals have surfaced that suggest the economy isn’t nearly as bad as some had feared.

For example, new data shows claims for unemployment benefits rose less than expected last week, which pros took as a sign the labor market may be improving. That data point seems to confirm what ADP said earlier in the week – that overall private-sector payrolls rose by 91,000, topping forecasts.

That’s major. Not only are jobs a big concern for the economy but the government will report non-farm payrolls data Friday morning, which typically moves the market.

And there are other bullish catalysts.

Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner eased jitters when he said major U.S. banks and money market funds have little direct exposure to European debt. Also, the ECB launched fresh liquidity measures to help banks weather the euro zone's debt crisis.

Those developments helped ease jitters about banks, another major concern overhanging the S&P.

And from a technical perspective it looks like the market made a significant reversal earlier in the week, with the 1080 level providing strong support.

All told, could the bulls have the tailwinds needed to make another run?

Looking at Street estimates, at least some strategists seem to think so. Oppenheimer, UBS, Barclays and Citigroup all expect the S&P to rise to 1325 or higher by year-end.

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Strategists 2011 S&P Targets
Oppenheimer 1325
UBS 1350
Barclays 1325
Citi 1325

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Have the recent market declines been a bear market fake out? Are stocks about to catch on fire?

Instant Insights with the Fast Money gang

Pro trader Patty Edwards thinks it’s entirely possible that the S&P trades up to the price targets you see above. She thinks history should come into play and past trends suggest a strong close.

“This is the third year of a presidential cycle – that’s almost always an up year,” she explains. “As long as we don’t take out the lows, I think we can rally."

Steve Grasso is a little more cautious. He thinks the market is tied to what happens in Europe. “If more positive headlines come out of Europe, then I think we can see 1250 or even 1300 by year’s end.” However he adds “I’m reluctant to think all the countries in the EU can get it together.”

Trader Guy Adami concedes that the stock market reversal on Tuesday was meaningful. He’s very focused on the bounce made by Morgan Stanley and Freeport McMoRan . “You have to respect the market action,” he says. However Adami thinks the gains are a bounce and not a sign of strength. “Long-term I’m not bullish.”

Top Miller Tabak strategist Pete Boockvar thinks the best bulls can hope for is a trading range. "1070 on downside and 1220 on the upside," he says. "But I don’t see anything that gets the market above that."

Trader Steve Cortes thinks the reversal in the stock market is nothing when compared to the action in the bond market. “If the S&P was going to 1300 – there is no way we’d have the 10-year yield as low as it is. I think the bond market is the smartest market and it’s saying serious global slowdown.

What do you think? We want to know!

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Trader disclosure: On Oct 6, 2011, the following stocks and commodities mentioned or intended to be mentioned on CNBC’s "Fast Money" were owned by the "Fast Money" traders; Adami Owns (AGU); Adami Owns (C); Adami Owns (GS); Adami Owns (INTC); Adami Owns (MSFT); Adami Owns (NUE); Adami Owns (BTU); Cortes is long CAG; Cortes is long SO; Cortes is long PEET; Cortes is short Nasdaq futures vs. long S&P futures; Edwards is long APA; Edwards is long XLK; Edwards is long RSW; Grasso owns AKS; Grasso owns ASTM; Grasso owns BA; Grasso owns BAC; Grasso owns D; Grasso owns LIT; Grasso owns MHY; Grasso owns PFE; Grasso owns PRST; Grasso owns S; Grasso owns XLU; Nathan is long AAPL October calls

For Patty Edwards
Trutina Financial is long JWN
Trutina Financial is long TGT
Trutina Financial is long COST
Trutina Financial is long AAPL
Trutina Financial is long SDS

For Steve Grasso
Stuart Frankel & Co and its partners own CSCO
Stuart Frankel & Co and its partners own CUBA
Stuart Frankel & Co and its partners own FDX
Stuart Frankel & Co and its partners own GERN
Stuart Frankel & Co and its partners own HPQ
Stuart Frankel & Co and its partners own HSPO
Stuart Frankel & Co and its partners own JPM
Stuart Frankel & Co and its partners own MET
Stuart Frankel & Co and its partners own MSFT
Stuart Frankel & Co and its partners own MU
Stuart Frankel & Co and its partners own NYX
Stuart Frankel & Co and its partners own PFE
Stuart Frankel & Co and its partners own PRST
Stuart Frankel & Co and its partners own UAL

For Peter Boockvar
No disclosures


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