Bank of America sees ‘no real signs of a bull market,’ calls for S&P 500 to fall to 3,600

The market is still not out of the woods despite the recent comeback, according Bank of America. “Optimism around a soft landing and 1H23 rate cuts has diminished following Jackson Hole, and there are still no real signs of a new bull market yet,” Savita Subramanian, Bank of America’s head of U.S. equity and quantitative strategy, said in a note. After the brutal first half of the year, the S & P 500 has rebounded nearly 8% from its 52-week low from June 17, making some investors believe the market has turned the corner. However, the market sold off again in recent weeks. The S & P 500 is on track for its third straight weekly decline, as Federal Reserve officials reaffirmed their commitment for aggressive rate hikes to squash inflation. This hawkish rhetoric, especially Fed Chair Jerome Powell’s remarks last week, has also led to recession fears creeping back into the market. Powell on Friday vowed to continue tightening policy in a way that will cause “some pain” to the U.S. economy. Even with a series of four consecutive interest rate increases totaling 2.25 percentage points, Powell said this is “no place to stop or pause.” Powell’s comment helped erase what would have been a monthly gain for the major averages. Instead, the Dow Jones Industrial Average finished August down nearly 4.1%, while the S & P 500 and Nasdaq 100 posted monthly losses of 4.2% and 4.6%, respectively. Subramanian said the market has yet to see the full impact of the Fed’s quantitative tightening. The strategist set her year-end S & P 500 target at 3,600, which would translate into a 9% decline from Wednesday’s close of 3,955. “Based on the historical relationship between Quantitative Easing and the market, planned QT implies a 7% market decline,” Subramanian said. A number of high-profile investors echoed Bank of America’s bearish sentiment. Jeremy Grantham, famed investor with a history of calling market crashes, said the burst of multiple-asset bubbles he’s been warning of has yet to occur. Meanwhile, DoubleLine Capital CEO Jeffrey Gundlach urged investors to pay attention to the worsening recession signals from the bond market. —CNBC’s Michael Bloom contributed to this report.

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