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Fed drama flips old Wall Street adage: Strategist

Real impact of dollar exposure, dragging energy

The agonizing Federal Reserve interest rate guessing game is turning a long-held investment phenomenon on its head, Citi strategist Tobias Levkovich said Monday.

"It's almost a little bit of kind of 'sell-the-rumor, buy-the-news.' Let's get it done already so the market can get past it," Levkovich said on CNBC's "Squawk Box. " It's often the case that stocks run-up on the speculation about an announcement only to sell off once the news becomes official.

Fed Chair Janet Yellen said in a speech Friday that a rate hike, the first in nearly a decade, may be "warranted later this year," but any move would be dependent on the economic data, which remains weak by historical standards.

Citi's forecast on the economy comes in at 3.3 percent growth this year, Levkovich said—adding that various surveys of what companies, excluding energy, say they plan to do indicate more hiring and increased capital expenditures.

Meanwhile, business economists predicted 3.1 percent GDP growth this year, the best performance in a decade, according to a poll released Monday by the National Association for Business Economics.

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Sizing up US economy

NABE President John Silvia, chief economist at Wells Fargo Securities, told "Squawk Box" in an earlier interview: "It's real consumer spending that has kicked up a notch or two. And that is really supporting the economic growth going forward."

But longer term, he see the economy growing at more like 2.5 percent to 2.75 percent because the collapse in oil and the strength in the dollar have been so severe. "With respect to oil and the dollar, you're probably going to have a little less profit growth than was expected earlier."

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While stocks of companies that miss big time could be punished, the upcoming earnings season will be more about guidance going forward than the actual quarterly results, Levkovich said. "You already have 5.9 negative pre-announcements for every one positive pre-announcement," which has created a "low expectations environment."

"I don't think a lot companies will have great guidance yet, because ... the visibility of the benefits of low energy prices [is] more second half weighted," he said.