Citi sees 5% uptick for global stocks by year-end, says the next big downturn is ‘not imminent’

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Global equities are expected to rise 5 percent by the end of the year as any lingering concerns of an impending economic collapse diminish, according to economists at Citi.

"We expect global equities to rise 5 percent by the end of 2017 (and) with fundamentals improving, valuations reasonable and interest rates still low we upgrade Europe, excluding the U.K., to overweight," Citi economists said.

Citi analysts forecast all major markets to report healthy earnings per share growth in 2017 which would represent the first synchronized upturn in almost a decade. The global bank's analysts pointed to an uptick in economic growth globally, increased commodity prices and subsiding political risk in Europe for its bullish outlook.

Citi credited its own in-house "Bear Market Checklist" which it used to compare global market variables at times of historic financial crises to the current day.

"Right now, only 3/18 factors are flashing sell compared to 17.5/18 in 2000 and 13/18 in 2007," Citi analysts said in the note.

Le Pen victory 'a systemic threat to global financial markets'

French candidate for the presidential election Marine Le Pen during a campaign rally on March 18, 2017 in Metz, France.
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Despite the bank's bullish equities outlook, Citi economists stressed it would be unwise for investors to overlook the ramifications of France's upcoming general election.

Far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen is currently neck-and-neck with centrist Emmanuel Macron for the first round of the two-stage process.

Le Pen has advocated for France to break away from both the European Union and the European Monetary Union (EMU) and, as a result of her campaign pledges, Citi analysts argued Le Pen posed an even greater risk to financial markets than Brexit.

"(A Le Pen victory) would be an even bigger issue than the U.K. leaving the EU. It could lead to a break-up in the single currency and represents a systemic threat to global financial markets," Citi economists said in a note.

French citizens are due to cast their first votes on April 23 before electing a new premier on May 7.

Citi analysts estimated Le Pen had a 20 percent chance of emerging victorious in little over a month although conceded U.S. President Donald Trump's surprise election victory as well as the Brexit referendum meant investors should not take the vote lightly.