JPMorgan raises ceiling on Wall Street's year-end forecasts
Wall Street analysts have been turning more bullish on equities even with major indexes near new highs and with the S&P 500 at arm's reach of the 1,700 mark.
Most recently, JPMorgan Chase's chief equity strategist, Thomas Lee, hiked his year-end target on the S&P to 1,775 from 1,715. Lee's new outlook is currently the highest among the top Wall Street firms and translates into a 5 percent upside by year-end.
"This has been a better bull than expected in 2013. … One of the positive takeaways from the second quarter has been better commentary regarding the Europe area," wrote Lee in a research note. "And this adds to the mosaic of generally improving Euro-area economic data points. With both the U.S. and Europe expected to see better growth in the second half, we believe the Street will be in a position to raise 2014 earnings."
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Going forward, Lee noted that technology, financials and health care will be the top sector drivers to boost the market.
Since hitting their two-month lows in mid-June, stocks have staged an impressive turnaround in the past four weeks. The Dow added nearly 6 percent, while the S&P rallied more than 7 percent. Earlier this week, both indexes logged fresh closing highs and the S&P came within 2 points of touching the 1,700 mark.
"Stocks are trading at barely 14 times forward earnings, when they should be closer to 16-17 times so there's plenty of reasons to be optimistic about owning stocks here," said Lee in a recent appearance on CNBC. "Putting money to work here should be profitable by year-end."
Other widely followed strategists who have recently pushed year-end targets above 1,700 include Bank of America/Merrill Lynch's Savita Subramanian, who has a current target of 1,750. Analysts at Credit Suisse and Oppenheimer also have current year-end price targets of over 1,700.
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But the two biggest risks that could threaten the rally, according to Lee, are China and the Fed.
Meanwhile, Subramanian said while she expects market choppiness ahead, investors should avoid panic selling.
"Markets do not move in straight lines: 5 percent or greater pullbacks have occurred an average of three times per year," she noted. "Trying to time pullbacks can lead to underinvestment and underperformance in an up market. As such, we continue to recommend that investors lengthen their investment time horizons and to use pullbacks as buying opportunities."
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CNBC.com compiled a list of other strategists' year-end targets to date:
Year-End Price Targets
|Firm||Strategists||Year-End Price Target|
|Goldman Sachs||David Kostin||1,750* (in 6 months)|
|Bank of America/Merrill Lynch||Savita Subramanian||1,750|
|Credit Suisse||Andrew Garthwaite||1,730|
|Wells Capital Management||Jim Paulsen||1,700|
|Piper Jaffray||Craig Johnson||1,700|
|Wells Fargo Advisors||Gary Thayer||1,650-1,700|
|Deutsche Bank||David Bianco||1,675|
|Morgan Stanley||Adam Parker||1,600|
|Wells Fargo Securities||Gina Martin Adams||1,440|