Why 2019 could be very good for stocks, after the worst year in a decade

New York (CNBC): There’s a good chance that what ailed the market in 2018 could reverse sometime in 2019, providing strong tailwinds for stocks, some strategists said.

After the worst December since 1931 and the worst year since the financial crisis, stocks enter 2019 tentatively but still susceptible to the volatility that resulted in historic intraday swings in late December. The S&P 500, trading at about 2,495, is down 6.6 percent for the year, and down 9.6 percent in December alone.

In the final quarter of 2018, the market fell on concerns that economic growth and profit growth are slowing down, and Fed rate hikes and trade wars would only accelerate the deceleration. But most Wall Street strategists in a CNBC survey maintain a rosy view for the bull market, and see it extending its run for another year, for an average year-end target of 3,000 — a 20 percent gain.

“Based on fundamentals, I don’t think the pullback we had in this market was ever justified. Markets will do what they’ll do. I think you have significant upside here. Therefore, we would think that the bottom has been put in this market,” said Jonathan Golub, chief U.S. equities strategist at Credit Suisse. One positive is that the forward price to earnings ratio has fallen below 15 percent from 18.4 at the start of 2018. Golub’s S&P 500 target is 2,925 for 2019.

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