As a rush of Wall Street strategists call for all-time highs in US stocks in the year ahead, JPMorgan Chase stands apart, releasing the gloomiest forecast so far among its peers.
The S&P 500 Index is set to drop to 4,200 by the end of 2024 — roughly 8% from its current level — as global growth decelerates, household savings shrink and geopolitical risks remain high with national elections including those in the US that could add to policy volatility, according to Dubravko Lakos-Bujas, the bank’s chief global equity strategist. The call reiterates the bank’s outlook heading into this year that has fallen short, with US stocks headed toward a double-digit annual gain amid economic resilience.
“Absent rapid Fed easing, we expect a more challenging macro backdrop for stocks next year with softening consumer trends at a time when investor positioning and sentiment have mostly reversed,” Lakos-Bujas wrote Wednesday in a note to clients, along with his team, including chief market strategist Marko Kolanovic.
JPMorgan’s view breaks from much of Wall Street, which has seen a growing number of prognosticators unleash calls for the S&P 500 to set record highs. Savita Subramanian at Bank of America Corp. and Binky Chadha at Deutsche Bank AG are among those who see the index hitting 5,000 or higher next year, while Goldman Sachs Group Inc.’s David Kostin thinks the US stock benchmark will at least come close to its previous peak.
Even Morgan Stanley’s Mike Wilson, a staunch equity bear, has turned more constructive on equities, predicting the S&P 500 will close at 4,500. JPMorgan’s call is the lowest among those tracked by Bloomberg, which currently average around 4,664.
The S&P 500 has surged nearly 19% so far this year on strong economic data, falling inflation and the view Federal Reserve officials are nearing an end to their rate-hiking blitz. Recovering corporate profits and an artificial intelligence frenzy that buoyed technology shares to spectacular gains also lifted sentiment across 2023.
That’s left Wall Street’s gloomy calls heading into this year in the dust and placed strategists like those at JPMorgan, which have doubled down on their predictions, as outliers.
“In some respects the projected macro backdrop for 2024 resembles a less pessimistic rendering of the low expectations for 2023 a year ago,” Lakos-Bujas said.
The bank says consensus estimates, which imply a sharp reacceleration in growth consistent with an early-cycle recovery, look too lofty against the prospect of a potential higher-for-longer rate regime. Even as the bank clings to its dour outlook, it sees earnings growth of 2-3% net year, with an earnings-per-share target of $225 for 2024.