Stocks testing February lows will be a great time to buy

The stock market will retest the lows seen in February, but it’ll represent a great time to buy, Wall Street veteran Byron Wien told CNBC on Thursday.

“If I’m right and we test the lows, that’s going to be a terrific buying opportunity,” said Wien, vice chairman at Blackstone and a 50-year veteran of Wall Street. He predicted stocks won’t enter bear market territory in 2018.

A bear market typically is defined as a drop of 20 percent or more from a market’s peak.

Stocks sold off in early February after a higher-than-expected wage number in January’s jobs report sparked fears of inflation and rising interest rates. Wall Street eventually bottomed during the trading day on Feb. 9, briefly plunging into 10 percent correction territory. The market has recovered some since then but remains lower for 2018.

Despite seeing a possible retest of the lows, Wien said he remains bullish for 2018 and added that there appears to be “too much complacency” in the market.

“I think the year’s going to be good. I agree … that we’re going to have 3 percent growth pretty much for the year, earnings are going to be good, interest rates are going up and not too much, inflation is going to stay tame,” he said.

The vice chairman of Blackstone’s private wealth solutions group issued his annual note in January with his 10 predicted surprises for 2018. Among them, Wien saw a stock correction this year and Republicans losing both the House and Senate in November midterm elections in a referendum on President Donald Trump.

Wien began the list in 1986, when he was chief U.S. investment strategist at Morgan Stanley. He defines a “surprise” as an event that the average investor would assign only a 1 in 3 chance of happening but which he believes has a greater than 50 percent likelihood.

Wien said Thursday he doesn’t expect much political risk this year. “I think that the market assumes that everything that could go bad won’t,” including NAFTA renegotiations and a possible meeting between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Wien also said Thursday he expects the federal deficit going up $200 billion to $300 billion this year.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office forecasted the federal debt is primed to explode to $1.6 trillion over the next decade. However, the group also said that the new tax law will generate an average of 0.7 percent growth over the decade and create 1.1 million jobs.

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