Demographic Reversal Seen Spurring Stock Gains: Chart of the Day

Demographics are about to shift in favor of stocks for the first time since the 1990s, according to Tobias Levkovich, Citigroup Inc.’s chief U.S. equity strategist.

The CHART OF THE DAY compares the number of Americans who were 35 to 39 years old at midyear, as compiled by the Commerce Department, with the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index’s performance since 1980.

This age group is poised to increase for the next 17 years, according to estimates compiled by the department and presented in the chart. The outlook reflects the aging of the echo boom generation, or children born in the 1980s and 1990s to post-World War II baby boomers.

Americans in this category are entering their “savings years” at 35 through 39, Levkovich wrote in a Sept. 7 report. Saving and investing by the echo boomers “would generate a new set of equity fund inflows,” he wrote.

This year’s total of 19.8 million people is the smallest since 1989 and 14 percent lower than a record set in 1998. The peak was reached during the Internet bubble of the 1990s, when the S&P 500 and other market benchmarks soared.

Levkovich expects the S&P 500 to rise next year to 1,615, about 50 points higher than the index’s record in October 2007. Expansion in U.S. manufacturing, energy, mobile technology and housing and efforts to curb federal budget deficits will combine with demographics to lift stocks, the New York-based strategist wrote.

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