Despite the recent dips in the S&P and Nasdaq—and some reason for a broader market fall— BlackRock’s Chief Equity Strategist Bob Doll remains optimistic.
On the downside: strong bullishness, European sovereign debt issues, possible Chinese fiscal tightening, the need to raise the U.S. debt ceiling and bad weather in the United States.
On the upside: new jobless claims were revised to come out much lower than expected, month over month home sales rose 13.2% in December, and fourth-quarter earnings reports continue to beat epectations. Technology and materials companies are showing the most strength, with mixed reports from financials and consumer companies.
“Companies that have been only cost-cutting have not had their stocks go up,” Doll wrote Tuesday. Investors also want to see more revenue. “The focus on top line performance is increasingly important, as investors are skeptical of the ability of margins to move higher,” he said.
The Federal Reserve ‘s “Beige Book” showed continuing improvement in manufacturing and retail (including auto sales), and some bright signs in the housing market.
“We continue to believe the most important operating assumption for investors is that central bankers and policymakers will do all they can to keep deflation off the table as part of their continued attempts to stimulate the economy,” Doll wrote. “The main goal will be to spur job growth, and there is little worry about the long-term impact of inflation. We believe the strength in profit margins coupled with a less-hostile regulatory posture by Washington, D.C., should spur increased confidence, which should lead to a pickup in employment. With continued progress along this trajectory, we believe we will move into a more virtuous and self-fulfilling economic cycle.”