Close Close
Popular Financial Topics Discover relevant content from across the suite of ALM legal publications From the Industry More content from ThinkAdvisor and select sponsors Investment Advisor Issue Gallery Read digital editions of Investment Advisor Magazine Tax Facts Get clear, current, and reliable answers to pressing tax questions
Luminaries Awards
Three men looking down at a declining stock market numbers

Portfolio > Economy & Markets

Morgan Stanley's Wilson Says Rally Isn’t Start of Bull Market

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.

Major U.S. stock-market strategists are starting a bull-bear debate, with pessimist  Michael Wilson of Morgan Stanley warning that the latest rally is a head fake, while Bank of America’s Savita Subramanian raises her 2023 target for the S&P 500 Index.

Wilson was one of the few Wall Street strategists to see the 2022 meltdown coming, earning him the top spot in last year’s Institutional Investor magazine survey, and has remained one of the most bearish voices in the market even as the S&P rallied 9% to start 2023.

At this point, he sees too many troubling triggers to believe the gains will stick.

“Is this finally the breakout to confirm a new bull market?” Wilson wrote in a note to clients Monday. “The short answer is no.” In particular, he sees risks in lofty valuations, a narrow breadth of stocks driving the gains and the outperformance of defensive stocks.

But where Wilson is looking at a half-empty glass, Subramanian says she sees a “half-full” one. She raised her 2023 year-end price target for the S&P 500 to 4,300 from 4,000. The equities benchmark topped 4,200 on Friday before drifting lower.

Bloomberg chart entitled Technical Resistance Caps Gains for S&P 500, showing a chart of the index as it tests 4,200 resistance again, fails to break out

“The era of easy money is behind us, but that might be a good thing,” she wrote in a note to clients on Sunday. “Corporate America has shifted focus to structural benefits — efficiency/automation/AI — and have bought themselves time to adapt via long-dated fixed-rate debt. Old economy cyclicals, capital-starved since 2008, have become disciplined and self-sufficient, evidenced by lower betas and more stable earnings.”

History appears to be on Subramanian’s side, as a strong first 100 days in the S&P 500 typically means significant upside for the rest of the year.

Bloomberg chart of blue and red horizontal bars lableled A Strong First 100 Trading Days Bode Well for US Stocks showing S&P 500 Index average annual performance is 25% after strong start

One short-term risk for the market is the ongoing debate in Washington over raising the US debt ceiling. Wilson said a resolution in the negotiations may briefly drive stocks higher, but “we would view that as a false breakout/bull trap.”

Others, including JPMorgan Chase & Co. strategists led by Dubravko Lakos-Bujas are also warning about more market volatility as the talks drag on. President Joe Biden and Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy are set to meet Monday.

(Image: Shutterstock) 

Copyright 2023 Bloomberg. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.