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SALT 2013: Why We Remain in Bull Market Territory

Stocks in this article: MS

LAS VEGAS (TheStreet) -- The Skybridge Alternatives (SALT) Conference kicked off on an optimistic note on Wednesday, with a presentation by David Darst, managing director & chief investment strategist of Morgan Stanley (MS) Wealth Management, who delivered an impassioned speech on the markets and the global environment.

Citing the leading asset classes of the last ten years -- Latin American equities up 22.8%, gold up 17%, Master Limited Partnerships (MLPs) up 16.5%, emerging market equities up 16.4%, Australia Equities up 15.2%, Canadian equities up 13.7% and emerging market debt up 12.0% -- Darst then focused on why the market has surged of late....and, more importantly, why there is more room to go.

In particular, Darst noted five major events we have avoided, allowing the market to continue its upward slope: (1) We have had no armed conflict between Iran and Israel, (2) no messy Greek exit, (3) no Chinese hard landing, (4) no double-dip recession in the US, and (5) no fiscal cliff in Congress. Of course, this has been supplemented by helpful "yes" factors, including Mario Draghi asserting he would do whatever he can to save the Euro, QEIII (Sep 13) and QE IV just three months later.

And to the bears, he said: Is the fed tightening? No. Are valuations stretched? No. Is investor euphoria present? No. Are bond-yield spreads widening? No. Is there a recession looming? No. Are the transportation sectors, banks and small caps taking bullets? No.

These echo many of the reasons behind the optimism we have cited consistently on Mad Money.

Plus, when looking at the money flow over the last ten years, stocks are glaringly left out of the picture: As Darst outlined, we have had Central Banks buying government securities, banks buying liquidity, corporations buying cash, endowments and foundations buying alternative pensions, mainstream individual buying bonds and ultra-high net worth investors buying trophy assets (real estate).

Of course, flexibility -- the willingness to embrace ambiguity -- is a key component of benefitting from this rally. And as Darst eloquently put it: "Take cookies when cookies are passed. Grab a cookie. Realize that they may not come around again."

TheStreet will be live-blogging from the Salt Conference on Thursday 9 May, starting at 1.45 PM ET.

--Written by Nicole Urken in Las Vegas.

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