The stock market looks like it's in a "free fall," Raymond James strategist Jeffrey Saut said Thursday as global stock markets were sinking after a second circuit-breaker trading suspension in Chinese equities this week.
"I wish I could have predicted it. But as you know I was calling for a Santa Claus rally and a pretty strong end to ," Saut said on CNBC, referring to his Dec. 15 call on "Squawk Box" for a "rip your face off-type rally." He had accurately predicted the August bottom days before it happened.
On Thursday, Saut blamed a "cacophony of exogenous events" for derailing the traditional year-end rally and leading to the worst start to a new year on Wall Street since 2008.
It all began with "the $1.2 trillion options and futures expiration" on quadruple-witching Friday on Dec. 18, Saut said. "That upset the rhythm of the rally. But we gathered our strength and came back the next week. And then you've been hit by this potential war between Saudi Arabia and Iran, the Chinese slowdown, and the 'H-bomb' of North Korea."
"The markets look like they're in a free fall right here," he said. "It feels like we're in one of those selling stampedes, and they typically last 17 to 25 sessions. And this would be only session six. I would be more cautious here."
Saut said he made that summer swoon prediction based on a proprietary market timing model, which also signaled a top in late October. That also turned out to be correct within days.