Why Federated Investors' Phil Orlando just got a little less bullish

Even some of the biggest bulls on Wall Street are pulling in the reins.

Phil Orlando, Federated Investors chief equity market strategist, has moderated his optimism this year and next, reflecting a range of headwinds buffeting the stock market.

He anticipates 2900 on the S&P 500 by the end of 2018, half the advance he had previously anticipated, though still an 8 percent gain. Orlando has also revised his 3,500 target on the S&P 500 for 2019 to 3,300.

In particular, one market risk is at the forefront of his mind.

"The Fed is right at the top of our list," Orlando told CNBC's "Futures Now" on Thursday. "We're fine with the quarter-point hike at the December FOMC meeting, we're fine with another two-quarter-point hike, say, in the first half of next year, but, at a 3 percent funds rate, we think we should be done."

Orlando says the likelihood of slower economic growth both in the U.S. and abroad warrants a pause from the Federal Reserve at the 3 percent mark in the second half of 2019, and early 2020.

"But the Fed's dot plots have them continuing to hike, bringing the funds rate up to about 3.5 percent in the middle of 2020," added Orlando.

The Fed's dot plot release in September suggests a fed funds rate of 3.1 percent for 2019, meaning as many as three rate hikes next year.

"In our view that's too much," Orlando said. "The risk for the market is that the Fed over-tightens, we invert the yield curve, and we actually create the recessionary environment perhaps in 2021 that the market and the Fed are trying to avoid."

The Fed will publish a new dot plot forecast at its December meeting. Markets are pricing in another 25-basis point hike at that meeting, according to CME Group fed funds futures.

The Fed isn't the only risk on Orlando's radar. He said other issues, including uncertainty over a U.S.-China trade resolution, and the threat of a strong U.S. dollar impacting corporate earnings, continue to "dog the market" and push it lower.

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