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US stocks rise to record highs – four experts on what to watch now

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It's been a record-breaking week for markets—Five experts on the rally

It was a record-breaking week for U.S. stocks.

For the first time in history, the Dow broke above 27,000 points, while the S&P 500 crossed the 3,000 mark. The record highs came after the Federal Reserve strongly suggested rate cuts were coming later this month. However, declines in global growth and the remaining trade uncertainty with China have added uncertainty to the market. Those gains also follow the best June in decades.

With second-quarter earnings season approaching, can the optimism continue to hold on? Four experts share what lies ahead.

Divine Capital CEO Danielle Hughes says one corner of the market isn't joining in on the rally, and it's giving her pause. 

With the S&P breaking out, NASDAQ breaking out, Russell still is not giving me that conviction that we really have the follow through, I think. And you know, we're neck deep in extra innings and, I think, that we've been waiting for a pullback for so long—we had a tiny one in December that everybody turned around and wishes was back. So, I don't think that the Fed is defending the markets in any way, shape or form. I think that the Fed is probably looking much more at the global macro. And looking at the fact that there's slowdowns in many big countries [like] China [and] India... The consumer is not happy. They're not buying autos, for example. So, we're having some issues globally.

Ritholtz Wealth Management CEO Josh Brown sees a better way to look at market strength than the S&P 500.

The breakouts that we're seeing in big, important, global stocks like Nike and Disney, you look at Starbucks, the chips now coming back— way, way more important than a huge bank index, like the Russell. And by the way, the best evidence of that, all you have to do [is] look at the S&P 500 equal weight index versus the market cap weight index. The equal weight S&P is keeping up with the market cap weighted index. And that to me, is a way better sign of the breath of market strength than it is to look at the Dow Transports, for example, or Small Cap 600 or Russell 2000.

Stephanie Link, managing director at Nuveen, said she is looking forward to earnings, but is remaining cautious until she has more economic data:

We have some data to get through over the coming weeks... We have retail sales on Tuesday. We're going to kind of be hostage to those numbers because if they come in a little bit stronger like today, this is why the bond market sold off—it's because CPI and shelter costs were really, very strong... Look, I'm positive on the market. I'm looking forward to earnings. I think it's going to be a good, better-than-expected earnings season, but I think you'll have to be a little bit cautious given that we have a lot of important economic data to get through in the coming days.

Tobias Levkovich, chief U.S. equity strategist at Citigroup, is looking beyond the second-quarter earnings season. 

"Four weeks ago, our panicky 4-year model was still in panic, because people were positioned defensibly and they were being reluctantly dragged into the market here as it hits new highs... This issue around 'Yeah I think earnings will be okay in the second quarter release', but where are we going to be talking about earnings in September? That's way more critical. The thing with the Fed was basically, we went back to this idea of TINA, right? There is no alternative to equities. Is that the right way to think about it? Or, should we really be focused on earnings?"

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