Here are 6 bullish surprises that could power the stock market through the rest of this year, according to Bank of America

TIMOTHY A. CLARY/Contributor via Getty ImagesThere are six potential bull market surprises that could drive stocks higher, according to Bank of America.

The bank highlighted the deflationary impact of ChatGPT and a potential end to the Russia-Ukraine war.

"Bearish sentiment + $5 trillion of cash [is] still the 'best friends forever' for risk assets, especially stocks," BofA said.

The stock market has already staged an impressive year-to-date rally of about 8%, but those gains could balloon by the end of the year if one of Bank of America's bullish surprises plays out.

In a Thursday note, Bank of America's investment strategist Michael Hartnett outlined the six potential bullish surprises that could jolt the stock market higher as pessimism remains prevalent among a large swath of investors, including hedge funds, which have built up their largest short position against the S&P 500 since 2011.

That bearish positioning also comes as investors continue to build up their cash positions via money market funds, which now tops a record $5 trillion.

"Bearish sentiment + $5 trillion of cash [is] still the 'best friends forever' for risk assets, especially stocks," Hartnett said.

These are the six bullish surprises that could fuel more upside in the stock market this year, according to BofA.

1. "Russia/Ukraine/NATO war ends."An end to the Russia-Ukraine conflict should help calm down geopolitical tensions and ease supply chain concerns related to certain commodities.

2. "Immigration + ChatGPT = back to disinflation."An increase in immigration in the US and ChatGPT's ability to save time for certain tasks are both deflationary forces that when combined could help squash inflation. Such a decline in inflation would pave the way for the Federal Reserve to back off its interest rate hikes.

3. "Arms race in tech spending."As ChatGPT makes waves, many technology companies will be spending money to play catch-up, and that would be good news for the economy.

4. "New fiscal 'bailout' culture = no recession."Both sides of the aisle in Congress have a tendency to spend a lot of money when a big economic shock occurs, so what's stopping them from doing the same thing in the future?

5. "Why sell when policy makers panic so easily."It's not only Congress that will do everything in their power to dent the blow of an economic downturn. The Federal Reserve also has powerful tools via interest rate cuts and bond buying programs to try and stimulate the economy.

6. "Stocks less dangerous than bonds."If stocks are viewed once again viewed as a better alternative than bonds, it could fuel a surge of inflows into the asset class.

If any of the surprises play out, it could help the economy avoid a recession or see a soft landing rather than a hard landing, according to Hartnett, ultimately boosting the stock market higher.

But there are still risks that are holding investors back from going all-in on stocks. Those risks include a hard landing for the economy, a credit event in shadow banking, and a potential conflict between China, Taiwan, and the US, Hartnett said.

To measure whether the economy is signaling that a hard or soft landing is ahead (or no landing at all), Hartnett recommends investors follow the price action of high yield bonds, homebuilder stocks, and the semiconductor index.

If the iShares High Yield Bond ETF (HYG) trades above 73, the SPDR Homebuilders ETF (XHB) trades above 70, and the Philadelphia Semiconductor Index (SOX) trades above 2,900, it would signal that a soft landing or no recession at all is in the cards, and vice versa if those assets trade below those levels.

So far, two of those three signals suggest a positive economy ahead, with the High Yield ETF trading at $75.15 and the Semiconductor Index trading at 3,056 on Friday. Meanwhile, the Homebuilder ETF is trading at $67.

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