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US stocks due for catch-up trade: Strategist

European and Japanese stocks are looking attractive, but U.S. equities appear poised to catch up to surging overseas markets in the short term, Morgan Stanley Wealth Management's Jonathan Mackay said Tuesday.

The S&P 500 is up about 3.3 percent in 2015, while the Euro STOXX 600 has risen 18.5 percent and Japan's Nikkei is up 19.4 percent.

"We still have a preference for global equities over the U.S., but I think in the short term, the next three to six months, heading into that Fed rate hike, ironically, I think you'll see a catch-up trade in the U.S. based on earnings expectations being too low," the senior markets strategist told CNBC's "Squawk Box."

"I think the bar is so low, you'll see companies actually be able to beat it."

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Second quarter earnings were initially projected to contract 4.5 percent from last year, according to S&P Capital IQ. While still negative, the outlook has improved to reflect a 3.4 percent year-over-year decline.

The current downturn in commodities is an indication the market is refocusing on reflation and the anticipation that the dollar will move higher as the Fed eventually increases interest rates.

Higher interest rates would presumably cause investors to purchase U.S. dollars in order to buy the country's debt. A stronger greenback makes dollar-denominated commodities such as crude oil more expensive to holders of other currencies.

Lower commodity prices will be a net benefit to U.S. equities, said Brent Schutte, senior investment strategist at BMO Global Asset Management.

"You may start getting that consumer feedback in the next few quarters that everyone's been looking for from lower oil prices because people now believe they're more permanent," he told "Squawk Box."

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Still, Schutte said he thinks U.S. stocks have limited room to run because rangebound trading is historically consistent with expectations of tighter monetary policy.

U.S. markets are also in a transition year, he said, explaining that companies have passed low economic growth through their bottom line by holding wages steady. "If we believe the economy is moving higher, we think wages and interest rates are going higher [then] companies now need top line growth."

Consequently, Schutte said he is pushing his clients overseas, particularly to the euro zone and Japan, where central banks are expected to maintain loose monetary policy and economies are showing signs of improving, absent the debt crisis in Greece.

"Europe looks a lot like the U.S. looked four, five years ago," he said.

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