Oppenheimer's Belski Joins Barclays in Cutting S&P 500 Estimate for 2010

Oppenheimer & Co. Chief Investment Strategist Brian Belski cut his 2010 and 2011 estimates for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index, becoming at least the third strategist in two weeks to reduce his outlook on U.S. stocks.

The benchmark for American equities may end the year at 1,225, Belski said, a gain of 11 percent in the next four months from its Sept. 3 close. He had earlier predicted an advance to 1,300. Birinyi Associates Inc.’s Laszlo Birinyi lowered his 2010 projection to 1,225 from 1,325 on Aug. 26, and Barry Knapp, of Barclays Plc, trimmed his estimate to 1,120 from 1,210 on Aug. 27.

“We have to be realistic and acknowledge that the pace of recent economic data has been weaker than we would have expected,” Belski said in a research note. “The deceleration of important economic indicators recently cannot be ignored.”

The S&P 500 has tumbled 9.3 percent since April 23 after Europe’s debt crisis and U.S. economic reports ranging from home sales to employment raised concern the economy may fall into a recession. Oppenheimer predicts the index may rally through the rest of 2010 as rising corporate profits lead investors back to stocks.

The average S&P 500 forecast from 12 Wall Street strategists tracked by Bloomberg shows the index may gain 9 percent and finish 2010 at 1,204. That’s down from a previous estimate of 1,242 at the beginning of August.

Belski, who is based in New York, also cut his 2011 estimate for the S&P 500 to 1,300 from 1,350. He maintained his earnings forecasts for the index at $78.50 a share for 2010 and $84.50 a share for 2011.

To contact the reporter on this story: Lynn Thomasson in Hong Kong at lthomasson@bloomberg.net.

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