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Market Preview: Fearing the Inevitable Pullback

Updated from 7:57 p.m. ET to add analyst comment on LinkedIn.

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- It's been bulls on parade so far in 2012, and it seems like almost everyone is board with the program.

On Tuesday, Nouriel Roubini, otherwise known as Dr. Doom was reported to be down with the thinking that this rally has legs. Wednesday saw Larry Fink, the CEO of BlackRock (BLK), tell Bloomberg that he thinks investors should be 100% in equities.

Sam Stovall, chief equity strategist at S&P Capital IQ, however, is a bit more circumspect in his thinking. He notes that 2010 and 2011 also got off to fast starts only to stall before the first quarter was out, and attributes the mostly low-volume action that's marked 2012 to the hesitancy of some investors to risk trying to ride equities much higher.

"So far this year, the S&P 500 has risen more than 7%, dragging investor sentiment up with it. Yet in 2010 and 2011, the '500' charged ahead early in the year, only to be staggered by first-quarter setbacks," Stovall wrote in commentary late Wednesday. "After regaining its balance and advancing through late April in both years, the market was floored by severe corrections. Due to these similarities, investors are justifying a repeated outcome for this ill-fated euphoria, in our opinion, by remaining cautiously enveloped by liquidity."

That fear of an inevitable pullback manifested itself in mutual fund flows last week, according to the latest data from the Investment Company Institute. Long-term mutual funds investing in domestic equities saw outflows of $1.8 billion for the week ended Feb. 1, ICI said.

It's the first real sign of trepidation from Mom and Pop in 2012 as two of the previous three weeks saw modest inflows. Bonds are still king apparently, taking in a total of $7.5 billion, despite the 10-year Treasury sitting near 50-year lows at a hair above 2%. The hybrid model, funds investing in both stocks and bonds, is also doing well, experiencing inflows of $2.2 billion.

The model portfolio of S&P Capital IQ is 45% domestic equities, 15% foreign equities, 25% bonds, and 15% cash, and Stovall has a 12-month target on the S&P 500 of 1400, just 50 points above Wednesday's finish. His feeling is that stocks could sidestep a swoon this year.
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