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'Overwhelming' optimism opens up market to 'the bear's bite,' says strategist Jim Paulsen

  • The stock market has incredible price momentum and broad participation but the challenges are "truly increasing," widely followed strategist Jim Paulsen told CNBC.
  • In fact, he called the optimism of late "really overwhelming."
  • "That opens you up to the bear's bite," he said.

The stock market has incredible price momentum and broad participation but the challenges are "truly increasing," widely followed strategist Jim Paulsen told CNBC on Tuesday.

In fact, he called the optimism of late "really overwhelming."

"It's so striking because we haven't had it in the entire recovery. The wall of worry was probably the cornerstone of this bull market. … That is gone," the chief investment officer at the Lethold Group said in an interview with "Power Lunch."

"That opens you up to the bear's bite," he added.

The Dow Jones industrial average broke above 26,000 for the first time on Tuesday, less than a month after hitting its record 25,000. However, stocks pulled back later in the afternoon as investors weighed the possibility of a government shutdown.

Full-fledged correction?

While Paulsen isn't exiting the market right now, he does think it is technically overbought and due for a pause.

"The pressures are building … particularly if inflation picks up in any major way here … of not just a pullback but a full-fledged 10 or 15 percent correction sometime this year," he said.

In the meantime, if the market continues "roaring ahead," with the S&P 500 breaking through 3,000 and the 10-year Treasury yield heading up toward 3 percent, Paulsen said he then may get more defensive with cash.

For now, though, he would look to own more capital goods stocks and fewer consumer and bond-like names.

Richard Weiss, chief investment officer of multi-asset strategies at American Century Investments, believes it makes sense right now to sell some equities.

"We've ridden this bull for all it's worth," he told "Power Lunch."

If investors want to hedge their bets, Weiss suggests cash, which he called the "safest place to be," or the Cboe Volatility Index.

"I don't know that there's any safe havens in the [U.S.] stock market at this point," he said.

— CNBC's Fred Imbert contributed to this report.

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