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‘Santa rally’ won’t rekindle due to omicron risks and profit-taking, PNC Financial’s CIO predicts

PNC Financial is throwing cold water on the fourth-quarter rally.

Covid omicron fears will take a heavy toll on risk appetites over the next two weeks, according to Chief Investment Officer Amanda Agati.

“We’ve already gotten the Santa rally,” she told CNBC’s “Trading Nation” on Monday. “We’re seeing a little bit of investor fatigue here.”

The major indexes kicked off the week in the red. The S&P 500 is down 3% over the past three days. It’s the index’s worst three-day slide since September.

Meanwhile, the tech-heavy Nasdaq is down almost 4% in the same time span.

“In addition to the omicron fears and negative headlines swirling around, I think investors are kind of locking in some of those gains and ready to go on Christmas vacation,” she said.

Yet, she doesn’t see a deeper problem.

“We don’t think this is going to lead to a significant market correction,” said Agati, who noted liquidity is fairly low this time of year.

Agati’s optimism hinges on omicron having fewer severe repercussions than previous Covid-19 strains. Her longer-term 2022 forecast, which came out Monday, is built on the assumption omicron won’t lead to hospitalization spikes, economic shutdowns and more supply chain trouble.

Even though her top wildcard is Covid, her base case is that 2022 will be a strong year for the market. Plus, she believes one of this year’s biggest losers will stage a major rebound.

“EM [emerging markets] is very well positioned, but it’s been absolutely punished from the regulatory overhangs. What I think will be interesting in 2022 is we’ll start to see some of that… China regulatory backdrop fade,” Agati said. “That would really be the shot in the arm that emerging markets need to outperform in 2022.”

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