The crushing Christmas Eve stock market low, after a bruising final three months of 2018, could very well be a generational bottom, Wall Street strategist Tom Lee said Thursday.
"If this is a midlife crisis, that was the low, and we've got 10 years before we have another really big scare, potentially," the co-founder of Fundstrat Global Advisors said in a CNBC "Squawk Box" interview.
The S&P 500 finished at 2,351 on Dec. 24 — the closing low of 2018 and the first bear market in more than nine years. However, the index has bounced about 14 percent since then, as of Wednesday's close, with nearly half those gains coming in 2019.
"I think 2,350, for a lot of reasons, is the low that people have to treat like 2009. I think what happened last year is a lot like 2008. And this year may play out a lot like 2009," said Lee, who spent seven years as chief equity strategist at J.P. Morgan before starting Fundstrat in 2014.
The S&P 500 hit a financial crisis closing low of 676 on March 9, 2009 — the intraday low was 666 — and then surged higher. Over the summer last year, when stocks were firing on all cylinders, the index eclipsed the longest bull on record since World War II, measured by avoiding a 20 percent or more bear market decline.
Lee said investors this year have to be "expecting the stocks to move a lot more than the fundamentals move," meaning that the market will probably make stronger gains than the economy.