If last year felt like "investing nirvana," PNC Financial says this investing climate is feeling more like "Led Zeppelin."
The firm's co-chief investment strategist, Amanda Agati, believes the path to gains will be no stairway to heaven.
"It feels like the market is a little bit heavier this year," she said Monday on CNBC's "Trading Nation. "
It appears that heaviness was bearing down on Wall Street as trading kicked off the week.
The Dow saw its worst day since March 1 and closed below its 100-day moving average. The S&P 500 and tech-heavy Nasdaq also ran into trouble — seeing their worst days in nearly six weeks.
Agati blames several headwinds that were virtually nonexistent last year for the issues facing Wall Street. They include 10-Year Treasury rates and volatility ticking up — as well as policy issues surrounding leadership and tariffs in Washington.
"Typically, the markets shrug off kind of the first year of a new administration. It's sort of a courting period or a getting-to-know-you kind of phase between D.C. and the markets," said Agati. "That time is about up now. We're starting to see that, I think, impact market sentiment."
But that doesn't mean 2018 will be a train wreck.
"It's not that we don't think the markets can't eke out decent gains for the year. But we think it's a tougher slog ahead," she added.
Agati doesn't see signs of a bear market or another correction. She believes the next chance of a recession likely won't happen until early 2020.
But what has changed is the market cycle, according to Agati. She's advocating active over passive investing.
"When you have a rapidly rising market and cycle, which is what we've been in the last few years, it pays to have just broad-based market exposure," she said. "With this sort of coming in towards the end of a cycle or at least being in the later innings, we do think there will be a resurgence of opportunities for active managers."
Her favorite groups include regional banks and defense right now.
"We really like the regional banks here. Although they have had a nice run, we think there's still a lot of opportunity left. They're certainly a key beneficiary of rising rates, and the mortgage market has been pretty strong," Agati said.
As for defense, she believes the recent pullback is a solid entry point for investors and could result in a pitch perfect investment.