S&P 500 May Enter Bear Market in '16 Amid Swings, UBS Says

  • U.S. stocks will reach new peak before falling as much as 30%
  • Bull market will resume and continue until end of decade

The going will get tougher for U.S. stocks this year, UBS Group AG’s equity-sales team says.

After a weak start to 2016, the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index will reach a top in the second quarter, before falling as much as 30 percent later in the year or early in 2017, according to a UBS sales report sent to clients. The Dow Jones Transportation Average has already entered a bear market, and the Russell 2000 Index of smaller companies has fallen 15 percent from its high last year.

“We are definitely more in the late stages of a bull market instead of being at the beginning of a new major breakout,” strategists led by Michael Riesner, UBS’s head of technical analysis for equities, wrote in a note dated Jan. 5. “Our key message for 2016 is that even if we were to see another extension in price and time, we see the 2009 bull cycle in a mature stage, which suggests the risk of seeing a significant bear cycle event in one to two years.”

More regions across the globe will fall into bear markets as stock volatility increases, according to UBS. The S&P 500, which had its first correction in four years last August, has only dropped 6.4 percent since its record last May.

The strategists note that the S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average are in the advanced stage of a so-called Elliott Wave pattern, indicating that after a final rally driven by mega-caps that could send the S&P 500 to 2,300, equities will fall. They recommend buying gold.

However, they also forecast that the underlying bull market will then resume and last until the end of the decade.

“No bull market is a one way,” the strategists wrote. “Long-term, we remain bullish equities.”

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