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Expert: Stay cautious in a low rate environment

With the major indices lower after having their highest closes of 2016 on Wednesday, investors are wondering if the recent rally will continue.

Rich Saperstein, managing director and chief investment officer of Treasury Partners at HighTower, told CNBC's "Halftime Report" that while there are a lot of underlying reasons to be cautious right now, investors should stay in the market.

"You are on the dance floor to some extent, but you are dancing closer to the door," said Saperstein. "You want to be able to have protection. You want to have exposure for market melt-ups like this, but ultimately in the next six to 18 months, we will have reconciliation, primarily with the zero-to-negative interest rate environment that we are seeing."

Jim Bianco, president of Bianco Research, told CNBC's "Squawk on the Street" that you can see the underlying economic concerns in the questions European Central Bank president Mario Draghi fielded earlier in the day.

Draghi said at a press conference Thursday that the ECB expects rates to "remain at present or lower levels for an extended period of time and well past the horizon of [its] net asset purchases."

"People worry 'is my pension going to be there?' They worry about the future of their country or their society in a negative rate environment," Bianco explained.

"Draghi was hit with these questions today. He deflected them by saying that he had nothing to do with them. He believes that the policies are right," said Bianco.

The low inflation environment in Europe continues to weigh on investors, but as the major indices all saw their highest intraday levels of 2016 on Wednesday, people are looking for ways to ride the rally in the United States. While some traders are trying to chase the rally in the utilities and telecom sectors, Saperstein isn't so sure.

"The utilities and telecoms have really been the best performing sectors so far. I think that is a problem, because it is based on lower interest rates and this gravitational pull from zero-and-negative interest rate environment globally," said Saperstein. "When and if that changes, these stocks are going to be impacted harmfully."

Saperstein prefers pure dividend plays with improved cash flow like the Vanguard Dividend Appreciation Index Fund and Consumer Staples Select Sector SPDR Fund instead of the higher-yielding utility and telecom stocks.