Barclays new stock chief says, ‘It’s late, but the party’s still going’

Finance news

The historic bull market in U.S. equities is maturing, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for more upside, according to Barclays’ new U.S. stock strategist.

“It’s late, but the party’s still going,” Maneesh Deshpande said in a note to clients Monday. “We think we are just entering the late stage despite more than nine years of expansion, given that leading economic indicators of recession are turning amber but not flashing red yet; corporate debt is high but can be easily serviced and capex is not elevated; and a detailed analysis of the view of our equity analysts reveals no sign of industry-specific cycles turning.”

Deshpande, who also serves as the firm’s global head of equity derivatives strategy, began his new role as head of U.S. equity strategy on Monday. He joins several others on CNBC’s Market Strategist Survey, where his 2018 S&P 500 forecast of 2,900 fell short of the median year-end estimate of 3,000.

His S&P 500 earnings per share prediction is $157.

In addition to the call on the broader market, Deshpande issued an overweight rating on financial, health care and information technology stocks and an underweight rating on consumer discretionary and utilities stocks.

“Higher rates and Treasury recommendations (leading to roll-back of major regulatory/capital requirements) would reveal true earnings power of banks overshadowed by years of regulations and litigation,” he added. Tech “is benefitting from migration to cloud, AI-based technologies, dominating user engagement with productivity/messaging apps and creating strong moats for themselves in the process.”

“Late stages of business cycles are favorable for enterprise IT hardware/software spending as healthy profit levels incentivize often pushed-out hardware/software upgrades,” he explained.

Despite the generally upbeat outlook, the strategist did comment on President Donald Trump’s policies surrounding trade and the impact a potential trade war could have on markets.

The Trump administration has pursued an aggressive tact on trade, often putting the president at odds with economic allies like Canada and the European Union through the use of tariffs. Trade tensions peaked over the weekend at the G-7 summit in Quebec, Canada, where the U.S. incumbent refused to endorse a declaration calling for a reduction of import taxes.

Trump cited “massive” Canadian tariffs among other reasons for his abstinence, arguing that such trade accords put the U.S. at a disadvantage. Still, Deshpande argued that the president’s hardline stance may ultimately work to hamper gains in the U.S. stock market.

“The government and fiscal policies undertaken by the Trump administration and global policymakers have been both a blessing and a curse for U.S. equity markets,” he wrote. “Trade barriers — which were deployed by the Trump administration this year, have the potential to negatively impact growth. While it is not our base case, an all-out global trade war could potentially completely offset the positive fiscal stimulus from tax reform.”

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