Wall Street veteran Byron Wien on CNBC Thursday predicted a major comeback to new highs for the stock market in 2019.
The S&P 500 in 2018 dropped more than 6.2 percent, breaking a two-year winning streak and logging the worst yearly performance since the financial crisis in 2008 when it tanked nearly 38.5 percent.
In a preview of his 34th annual list of year-ahead economic, financial market and political surprises, Wien said he sees the S&P 500 gaining 15 percent in 2019, and exceeding the index's Sept. 21 all-time intraday record.
The S&P 500, in this year's first trading session on Wednesday, fought off sharp declines, closing up 3 points but remaining more than 14.6 percent below September's intraday high of 2,940.91.
"I'm optimistic," said Wien, during a "Squawk Box" interview. "I think the fundamentals are sound."
On what would help stocks, the vice chairman of private wealth solutions at Blackstone said he thinks the Federal Reserve won't raise interest rates at all this year. "It's a surprise. Everybody expects thinks it's going to be two or three." He added that any whiff of a recession won't come until 2021.
After its fourth 2018 hike in December, the Fed projected two rate increases for this year. The stock market started going haywire in October after Fed Chairman Jerome Powell seemed to indicate a strong path higher for rates, remarks he later walked back.
Looking back at his surprises list for last year, Wien got it mostly right on the stock market, the Fed and the economy.
In a January 2018 press release, Wien wrote: "The U.S. economy has a better year than 2017, but speculation reaches an extreme and ultimately the S&P 500 has a 10 percent correction. The index drops toward 2,300, partly because of higher interest rates, but ends the year above 3,000 since earnings continue to expand and economic growth heads toward 4 percent."
The economy was better last year than in 2017, and hit 4.2 percent growth in the second quarter. The S&P 500 did go into corrections, and briefly a bear market, with a 52-week low of 2,346.58 on Dec. 26 due to rate concerns. But the S&P recovery that Wien predicted to 3,000 for year-end did not happen. In fact, the index closed on New Year's Eve at 2,506.85.
In a finance career spanning about 50 years, Wien started putting out his annual surprise list in 1986 when he was the chief U.S. investment strategist at Morgan Stanley. He joined Blackstone in 2009.
Here's the full rundown of Wien's Top 10 Surprises for 2019 list, written in his own words: