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Stock pop 2016? These things must happen: Bob Doll

The roaring stock market of recent years has eased off in 2015 because of nosediving oil prices, Nuveen Asset Management's Bob Doll said Monday.

He predicted a flat year for the S&P 500, which was off about 2.25 percent ahead of the new trading week after double-digit returns in the past three years.

Putting pressure on stocks, U.S. oil prices, as measured by West Texas Intermediate crude, were sharply lower early Monday, trading at nearly seven-year lows, under $34 a barrel. WTI lost nearly 11 percent last week.

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Doll, a longtime stock bull, told CNBC's "Squawk Box" that crude at these levels can be good for stocks but only if the volatility can go away, though he said he'd prefer to see oil a bit higher at $40 a barrel.

"Stability I think is the key, because every time oil downticks it brings up all the deflationary concerns that exist out there and have been with us since the break in 2008 and 2009," Nuveen's chief equity strategist said.

In addition to stabilization in oil, Doll said stocks could fair well next year under a scenario of recovering earnings. "Oil, and the rise in the dollar, and earnings have gone nowhere. That's very different than what all of us thought at the beginning of the year."

He expects the profit picture to improve even as the Federal Reserve appears to be ready to increase interest rates for the first time in nearly a decade at this week's policy meeting.

He said several factors bode well for the health of American consumers, including an uptick in wages and cheap gas prices. "Consumers are 70 percent of the economy and I think they will keep us from a recession."

Heading into next year, he advised investors to look for companies with "quality balance sheets" and those that derive the bulk of their earnings from domestic operations.

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