preloader icon

Apex Trader Funding (ATF) - News

Barron's Why BofA Sees the S&P 500 Climbing to 5400

After another great week for stocks, BofA is getting more bullish.

On Friday, the S&P 500 notched its 15th record close of 2024, ending at a new high of 5137.08 and up nearly 1% for the week.

The index is up 16 out of the last 18 weeks—the first time it has done so since 1971—and for the first time in history it has gained at least 0.2% or more each of those 16 times.

Moreover, the rally appears to be on relatively solid ground, given stable economic data and Nvidia’s supercharged earnings showing the transformative power of artificial intelligence.

It is little wonder, then, that many Wall Street strategists think the index can continue to power higher.

Savita Subramanian, BofA Securities’ head of U.S. equity and quantitative strategy, is one of them, as she lifted her year-end target for the S&P 500 to 5400 from 5000. That implies just over 5% upside from Friday’s record close.

That move puts her closer to consensus. According to FactSet, the average target for the S&P 500 is 5596, which implies nearly 9% upside remaining for the index.

Nonetheless, Subramanian writes that while her price target has gone higher, her conviction is lower.

That is because of the firm’s Sell Side Indicator, which takes the temperature of Wall Street’s sentiment via strategist equity allocations. Historically this has been an accurate contrarian indicator, i.e. a bullish signal when Wall Street was bearish and vice versa. It is firmly in neutral territory at the moment, but it has shown increasing equity allocations, a move that should give investors pause.

Subramanian sees other reasons for optimism, though. Fourth-quarter earnings for S&P 500 components surprised to the upside by 4%, and margins didn’t crumble despite ongoing inflation pressure. That has led to full-year earnings per share estimate for the index to be roughly flat—better than estimate cuts which typically happen early in the year.