With inflation cooling and AI hitting its stride, stocks are on the cusp of a record-setting ‘roaring 2020s,’ Ed Yardeni says

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The stock market took a breather on Tuesday, paring some of its gains after a six-day rally pushed the S&P 500 above 4,500 for the first time since July. But Ed Yardeni, founder of Yardeni Research, believes there’s more upside ahead for investors. “A move up to match the record high is conceivable either by yearend or sometime early next year,” he wrote in a Monday note to clients.

The veteran market watcher has been bullish all year, arguing that the Federal Reserve’s interest rate hikes will tame inflation without sparking a job-killing recession—an outcome known as a “soft landing.” He even placed a 4,600 year-end price target on the S&P 500 at the start of the year when many investment banks were nervous about the potential impact of rising rates on corporate earnings (Wall Street’s average price target was just 4,050). 

Now, Yardeni, who spent decades leading investment strategy teams at Deutsche Bank and other Wall Street giants, says that even his 4,600 target might have been “too conservative.” While the Fed’s interest rate hikes have dramatically increased borrowing costs for businesses and consumers since March of 2022, the job market, consumer spending, and industrial output have proven their resilience—and, with inflation fading, there’s no need for further rate hikes, he said. 

“The economy is growing despite the Fed’s tightening,” he wrote. “Fed officials believe that they can stop raising the federal funds rate if inflation continues to cool and economic growth continues to slow, which is exactly what’s happening.”

Yardeni pointed to the flat October reading in the Coincident Economic Indicators (CEI) index, which measures current economic activity, as his evidence that the economy is cooling down but not breaking under the weight of rising rates. “The slowdown in the CEI is consistent with our soft-landing scenario,” he wrote.

Just as inflation is coming down, Yardeni notes, technological innovations like AI are set to create a productivity boom in the coming years, which could lead to a decade of growth and outsized returns in the market. “The stock market’s vertical rally since October 27 (the latest correction low) is more consistent with our technology-and-productivity led Roaring 2020s scenario,” he wrote.

Two recent cooler-than-expected inflation reports, falling oil and gasoline prices, and surprisingly strong gross domestic product gross domestic product growth have many experts feeling bullish this holiday season.

James Demmert, chief investment officer at Main Street Research, also told Fortune late last week that he believes both inflation and the Fed’s interest rate hiking campaign are “finished.” We’ve entered a new bull market that will be led by AI stocks like Microsoft and the chipmakers Nvidia and AMD, he argued. And UBS Global Wealth Management’s Solita Marcelli, chief investment officer of the Americas, said she, too, expects stocks to continue their rally this year.

“The S&P 500’s latest earnings season pointed to a return to profit growth after three quarters of contraction,” Marcelli wrote in a note to clients Monday. “Our base case is for further modest equity gains in 2024, with the S&P 500 Index ending the year around 4,700.”

However, she warned that there are a lot of potential threats to the stock market party out there. If there is any sign that inflation is reheating, the markets “could be unsettled” by the prospect of further rate hikes.

“The wars between Russia and Ukraine and between Israel and Hamas both have the potential to trigger volatility,” Marcelli added. “And the US presidential election takes place against a background of an increasingly dysfunctional budget process.”

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