Relentless volatility in the market is forcing even the biggest optimist to downgrade his outlook. Oppenheimer’s Chief Investment Strategist John Stoltzfus on Thursday cut his S & P 500 year-end target to 4,800 from 5,330. The lower forecast would still represent a 24% rally from Wednesday’s close of 3,845.08. Stoltzfus was the biggest bull remaining on Wall Street, with the highest 2022 outlook, according to the CNBC Market Strategist Survey that collects targets from 15 top strategists. Now Oppenheimer’s the second highest, after JPMorgan’s Dubravko Lakos-Bujas and Credit Suisse’s Jonathan Golub, both of whom are at 4,900. “We are updating our price target for the S & P 500 for year-end 2022, in light of the 20.6% downdraft over the first half of the year,” Stoltzfus said. “Although we are revising our price target lower, we remain bullish on U.S. equities.” The S & P 500 suffered its worst first half this year since 1970, tumbling into a bear market. The benchmark is now down more than 20% from its record high reached in the first week of January. Volatility remains high as investors fear a recession, spurred by the Federal Reserve hiking interest rates aggressively to combat inflation. Stoltzfus said Russia’s war on Ukraine and China’s Covid outbreak added uncertainty and soured sentiment, hurting equity market performance to a greater extent than he had earlier expected. Still, the strategist said he remained a bull even with rising recession risks. “Even in the face of uncertainty and palpable risks of recession, our longer-term outlook for the U.S. economy and the stock market remains decidedly bullish,” Stoltzfus said. “We believe U.S. economic fundamentals remain on solid footing. U.S. growth should remain well supported by consumer demand, business investment, and government spending.” Among sectors, Stoltzfus said he prefers cyclicals over defensive stocks and favors technology, consumer discretionary, industrials and financials.
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