Wall Street Strategists Turn Ever Bullish Just as Stocks Slump

Call it another case of bad timing for Wall Street strategists.

The group, historically known to have a bullish bent, spent most of this year saying US stocks would end lower in 2023. Instead, the S&P 500 Index rallied 16% in the first half.

Then, slowly at first, strategists began raising targets. The optimist’s camp has since gained in popularity — just in time for the US stock benchmark to suffer its worst stretch in six months.

Bank of America Corp. and Societe Generale both recently boosted their year-end calls for the S&P 500 for a second time in 2023, forecasting that the gauge will resume a run toward 4,600 and 4,750, respectively. Even Wells Fargo & Co. expects the US stock benchmark to jump to 4,600 before fading again into the close of this year.

Those are bold calls given that the S&P 500 ended Thursday at 4,330. The gauge has flailed since August as traders grow anxious over how the Federal Reserve will deliver an economic soft landing while embracing higher-for-longer interest rates. The bout of weakness came just as strategists at firms including Citigroup Inc. and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. got more optimistic on US equities after failing to predict gains in the first half of the year.

Strategist Catch Up