Heading into this year, Wall Street’s top prognosticators were almost universally expecting further pain for the stock market after 2022’s disaster. Only a handful saw a rebound coming.

It turns out those few were spot on.

A year ago, closely watched forecasters like JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s Marko Kolanovic and Morgan Stanley’s Mike Wilson were saying higher interest rates and an eventual economic downturn would trigger additional losses.

But some ever-bullish counterparts, including Fundstrat Global Advisors LLC’s Tom Lee, Oppenheimer Asset Management’s John Stoltzfus, and Brian Belski at BMO Capital Markets projected a recovery, citing excessive pessimism. Carson Group Holdings LLC’s Ryan Detrick anticipated economic resilience would propel stocks. Meanwhile, Bank of America Corp.’s Savita Subramanian led a wave of forecasters turning positive at mid-year.

“We talked about the market maybe making new highs and people thought we were crazy,” said Detrick, chief market strategist at Carson Group. “But we were surprised at the overwhelming negativity that was out there. It’s important for people to remember that the market had priced in a lot of bad news.”

Now, with the S&P 500 Index points away from a record high, these bulls can claim a measure of vindication after failing to predict last year’s rout. For 2024, they see more strength as the labor market remains solid and conviction about Federal Reserve rate cuts rises.

Below is a breakdown of how they approached the market in 2023 and their outlook for 2024. At around 4,768 points as of Tuesday’s close, the S&P 500 is up 24% this year.

Tom Lee, Fundstrat
With a target of 4,750 at the start of 2023, Lee, co-founder and head of research, came closest to predicting the trajectory of the S&P 500 among strategists tracked by Bloomberg.

His analysis showed the chance of a 20% rally was double following the index’s 19% slump in 2022. He saw three main drivers: His research indicated inflation was going to ebb faster than most anticipated; companies were prepared to handle higher rates, given the Fed’s warnings; and volatility was highly elevated.

Tom Lee Thomas
“It’s impossible for markets to stay at that level of anxiety, and when inflation diminishes—which is what happened—then stocks actually levitate because the selling pressure is ending,” he said.

Lee remains among the most bullish forecasters for next year, with an S&P 500 target of 5,200.

Brian Belski, BMO
Entering this year, Belski, the firm’s chief investment strategist, had a target of 4,300 for the US stock benchmark, one of the most bullish forecasts among strategists monitored by Bloomberg before he and others upgraded their calls later in the year to keep up with the market’s advance.

He saw market sentiment as excessively negative at the end of 2022, which he said would spur demand for liquidity-driven and “opportunistically oversold” assets.

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