Stocks have staged a massive comeback from their mid-February lows — and that has lit a fire underneath some of Wall Street’s biggest bulls.
Last week, an encouraging U.S. jobs report helped blue chip stocks end a turbulent two-month stretch, with the Dow Jones Industrials closing above the psychologically-key 17,000 level for the first time since early January. The S&P 500 Index also jumped to a 2-month high.
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“On the margin there’s a lot of puts and takes, but the tone is really different,” Fundstrat Global Advisors, Tom Lee told CNBC’s “Fast Money” last week. “For January and February, for the most of the month, it was universally negative and I think in the last few weeks things have really changed.”
Lee, who is the biggest bull on the Street, has an S&P 500 2016 year-end price target is 2,325 and sees the market returning to its most recent high of 2,130, by May.
Oppenheimer Chief Market Strategist, John Stoltzfus, believes that the broad market will continue to grind higher to 2,300 by the end of 2016 – but there’s no reason to get overly excited about mini-rallies along the way.
“I think things keep getting better at a creeping kind of rate. It’s a Larry David kind of market,” Stoltzfus told “Fast Money” recently. “You got to keep your enthusiasm curbed. Right-size your expectations, and you just might be positively surprised.”
‘LINE IN THE SAND’
Lee isn’t the only one banking on stabilization to push the market higher. One trader called crude’s recent push above $30 a “kind of a line in the sand” for investors
If we can stabilize above that, I think the equity market will like that,” Wells Fargo Senior Global Equity Strategist Scott Wren, told the traders recently. “I think all the market needs to do to get into our year-end target range and the upper end of that target range is stability.”
Wren recent cut his year-end target from 2,230-2,330 to 2,000-2,100, citing the excessive declines seen in January.
Meanwhile, UBS believes the bull run never ended and the market’s “negativity bubble” has popped.
“What we think has happened is this turn in February where assets from the Mexican peso, to unleaded gas, to retail stocks in the S&P, all turning together means that that mentality has changed,” UBS Executive Director of U.S. Equity and Derivatives Strategy, Julian Emanuel, said.
“Things just need to go a little bit better than they have been, and you can continue to get a rally,” he added. Emanuel’s year-end price target on the S&P 500 is 2,175, nearly 9 percent higher than current levels.
According to Lee, there are multiple key drivers that could push the market even higher: crude oil reaching an equilibrium, new policy actions in China, high-yield stabilization and the dollar beginning to flatten out.
“The dollar is no longer going up 20 percent a year, so that’s really bullish for risky asset views,” said Lee.
If the S&P does surge into year-end, sectors Stoltzfus finds attractive are consumer discretionary, tech, industrials and materials – He’s much less positive on the financials.
“We’re looking for financials to play second fiddle to the cyclicals,” he added.