The return to record market levels may already be starting.
According to CFRA Research’s Sam Stovall, history suggests the latest correction is paving the way for another vigorous move higher.
“There have been 23 of these [corrections] since World War II and, on average, it’s taken only four months to get back to breakeven,” the firm’s chief investment strategist told CNBC’s “Trading Nation” on Monday. “If this is indeed the bottom, we could be setting new all-time highs early in the third quarter.”
Despite lingering coronavirus fears, the market staged a historic comeback Monday after entering correction territory last week. The Dow surged more than 5% and saw its biggest point gain ever. The Dow, S&P 500 and Nasdaq have now recovered more than 40% of their recent losses.
“I believe in the rally for the short term because I believe the market did get oversold last week,” he said. “But I believe that it will need to be retested before we can actually say that the worst is behind us.”
The market’s big test
Stovall said the big test will be the Federal Reserve meeting on interest rates on March 17.
“If the Fed does not cut rates or does not cut as much as investors are hoping, then we might use that as a trigger in a sense to go down and to retest the recent lows,” he said. “Why would the Fed need to cut? I mean the market has already done that for them with the 10-year [Treasury] Note [yield] hovering around 1 percent.”
Even though his forecast calls for new highs by summer, Stovall warns it could still be a losing year for stocks.
“If the market is down in both January and February, we tend to fall 60% of the time. That’s not much better than a coin toss,” he said. “The average decline has been down around 5 percent.”
The course of the coronavirus outbreak will also play a key role, according to Stovall.
“Bull markets don’t die of old age. They die of fright,” Stovall said. “What they’re most afraid of is recession, and this is the biggest challenge to the global economic expansion to date.”
— CNBC’s Robert Hum contributed to this article.