Forecasters Go Once More Into The Breach...

The pros see modest stock gains-again. Slowing profts may finally vindicate them

Once again, the bull outran Wall Street's expectations. For the second straight year, the major stock indexes closed far above the consensus forecast of 45 market strategists BUSINESS WEEK surveyed last December. Even the Dow Jones industrial average--which at 8823.3 on Dec. 15 was up less than half as much as the technology-heavy NASDAQ--managed to rise 4.5 percentage points more than the pros believed it would. But far from being emboldened by their history of excessive restraint, on average Wall Street's investment gurus are forecasting modest gains for 1999, with the Dow expected to reach 9567 (up 8.4%), the Standard & Poor's 500-stock index 1230 (up 5.8%), the NASDAQ 2081 (up 3.4%), and the Russell 2000 index 432 (up 10.9%).

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