US Economy

Bob Doll: Recession odds 50-50, but I'm hopeful

Interesting and positive signs for the markets: Bob Doll
Interesting and positive signs for the markets: Bob Doll

The is flirting with the 1,800 level, down 14 percent from its most recent peak. And market watcher Bob Doll said Friday that such a move indicates a 50 percent probability of a recession.

"If we have one, we probably go to 1,600 [on the S&P], if we don't, we can creep back to 2,000. I'm in that camp, I don't think the U.S. will have a recession in 2016," the chief equity strategist at Nuveen Asset Management told CNBC's "Worldwide Exchange."

U.S. stock futures and European stocks were higher Friday, a day after the S&P 500 breached its lowest level in two years before cutting those declines almost in half by the close. The index lost 22 points to finish Thursday at 1,829.

Doll believes oil is the main driver of recession fears. "When oil goes down, the fear is we're heading for a recession because nobody is buying oil, or, when oil goes down the fear is, 'Oh my goodness, all the bad loans on the banks related to energy, I better sell stocks.'"

Pipelines and oil storage tanks in Cushing, Okla.
Oil gains 12.3% in best day since Feb '09

But with crude up sharply Friday morning, back above $27 per barrel, that's helping support stocks, he said.

The recent weakness in the dollar could be another catalyst for a move higher in stocks, Doll said. "Remember that negative earnings revisions last year all had to do with rising dollar and falling oil. If we can break both of those, we actually might have some up earnings."

The constant recession talk is a contributing fear in the market, he argued, saying that's why this sell-off feels a little more painful than the downturn in August and September.