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Investors, brace for the summer doldrums: Experts

After stocks closed down on the last trading day of July, several market pros had a warning for investors Friday: Brace for a slowdown in the market.

"After we come out of this earnings period, I really do believe the summer doldrums are going to be here," David Seaburg, head of sales and trading for Cowen & Co., said in an interview with CNBC's "Closing Bell."

"I think we're in a market of a have and have-not society within different sectors … you have the clear winners and you have the rest of the camp. I think there's just a gravitation of money into the clear winners, and that's going to stay."

Trader on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.
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Trader on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

Jim Lacamp, senior vice president of investments and senior portfolio manager at UBS, agreed, noting that this is the time of year when the market usually sells off a little bit.

"If you look at the breadth of the market, it's been terrible. The Dow is down on the year, we've seen lower lows, [and] we've seen lower highs. So the market is not acting very well," he said.

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Independent investment consultant David Darst called August and September "terrible months."

"It's not a bad time to take a pause and take a rest," he said.

Instead, he is looking at Europe, noting that 67 percent of European companies have beaten earnings expectations.

"European stocks are doing well with that weaker euro and with that weaker oil price, which they are a net importer of," said Darst, former chief investment strategist with Morgan Stanley Wealth Management. "So you go with European stocks."

U.S. stocks closed mildly lower Friday, the last trading day of July, but were higher for the month.

Kenny Polcari, director at O'Neil Securities, believes there is going to be a rush back into high-quality dividend plays, particularly after data on Friday showed labor costs in the second quarter recorded their smallest increase in 33 years. The results put a dent in the argument for the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates in September.

"People are going to be once more concerned about where the equity market is going to go. Is it going to come under pressure, where am I going to find safety in the equity market and that's where they're going to find it," said Polcari, also a CNBC market analyst.

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Meanwhile, while the so-called summer doldrums may be kicking in, Seaburg has a better outlook for the back half of the year. In fact, he thinks there could be a big move to the upside thanks to the amount of cash sitting on the sidelines.

"We are setting up for a tide of money to come into this market, and it probably does happen when we get a lot more certainty about the fact the Fed is going to act this year" on interest rates, Seaburg noted.

UBS' Lacamp thinks one thing that could cause a market melt-up is performance chasing by money managers.

"If you start to see a series of higher highs and higher lows and there's a little more confidence that comes in, rates remain low, you could see that push towards the end of the year," said Lacamp.

Another factor pointing in the favor of a better second half is the fact that presidential pre-election years are historically the best in the four-year cycle, and that hasn't happened yet this year, he added.

—Reuters contributed to this report.

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