Stocks soar after best quarter in years – here’s what to expect now

The S&P 500 bounded higher to begin the second quarter. Monday’s rally comes after stocks closed out their January-March stretch with their best gains in nearly a decade.

Here’s what five experts say investors should expect next.

Mohamed El-Erian, chief economic advisor at Allianz, says there are four things to keep in mind in this slower global growth environment:

“One, tactical is as important as being strategic. You need a tactical overlay, because markets will overshoot in both directions. Two is with where long bonds and 10-year bonds are: Bonds are not a good risk mitigator; cash is a much better risk mitigator. Three is you better build up portfolios from the bottom up. Don’t use passive indiscriminately to do it on the way down. And four is be ready to be much more agile than you’ve been in the past.”

Elga Bartsh, head of economic and markets research at BlackRock, says developed-market equities typically return 3 percent in late-cycle phases and says three major themes are on her radar:

“Themes that we are looking for in our outlook: One is a growth slowdown, and for that it’s important that China is turning around its economy. The second one is patient policymakers … Third is the need to carefully balance risk and rewards in portfolios … Returns are decent but what you’re also getting is a lot more volatility.”

James Paulsen, chief investment strategist at Leuthold Group, says new highs are ahead as a wall of worry keeps excessive optimism at bay:

“This bull market has been led by bears throughout. Through the first five or six years of this bull it was led by things like low-vol investments, by dividend aristocrats, by staples stocks, and it still is being led by that… It’s been an amazingly great bull, and it’s never generated exceeding optimism, at least not in the stock market. The public has never come in overall, and I think we’re still climbing that wall of worry.”

Keith Meister, managing partner and CIO at Convex Management, says the December sell-off and first-quarter rally have brought us back to even:

“We’re probably back to what is a relatively fairly valued market. There was a major pivot, which can’t be underestimated, which is where we went from having five or six rate hikes estimated to today, I think, one, and the rhetoric would imply maybe we cut before we raise.”

Andrew Szczurowski, portfolio manager at Eaton Vance Management, says lowered expectations for earnings growth need to be kept in context:

“Earnings growth seems to be slowing from last year, but let’s keep in mind how strong of a year 2018 was … I think now we know we have central banks on the side of risk markets, and after kind of going into the year thinking that quantitative tightening was going to be this big problem around the world, it seems that central banks have reversed course and kind of made a dovish pivot everywhere. So I think that gives markets a boost going in for the rest of the year.”

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