The outlook for stocks in 2016 is looking a lot like 2015: no growth.
"We believe overall the markets are going to be broadly flat due to the strong dollar and commodity prices," said Pamela Woo, head of U.S. equities at BNP Paribas Investment Partners. "We think earnings revisions are going to continue to be pressured and we also feel valuations with the S&P 500 at 16 times next 12 month earnings are fair valued."
While there are a few more trading sessions left, the broad S&P 500 is shaping up to post flat growth in 2015, after rising 11.4% in 2014. One of the reasons markets have been volatile in recent months is the slide in crude prices. While oil is flirting with six-year lows, Woo doesn't expect the commodity to move much lower. "We are expecting higher oil prices next year," she said.
Amid the lackluster forecasts for next year, there are some bright spots. Alphabet (GOOGL) - Get Report and JPMorgan Chase (JPM) - Get Report are poised for growth, Woo said. Economists expect the Federal Reserve to hike short-term interest rates three or four times in 2016, following its first one in nearly a decade earlier in December. Federal Reserve officials expect the fed funds rate to reach 1.375 percent by the end of 2016.
"We've seen the smaller-cap banks in particular do well" from higher rates, Woo said. "The banking sector is an area that [we find very attractive], though as valuations have come higher, we've been trimming back."
Rising interest rates are a boon to bank's net interest margin. Also, Woo is bullish on JPMorgan Chase. "We feel it's a [well]-managed company with a high sustainable return on equity,'"she added.
Aside from financials, Woo likes software and services companies within the technology sector. "One of our largest bets is in Google," she said of the company now known as Alphabet. "Even though it's one of the market's darlings at the moment, we feel there is a secular growth story in the Internet advertising space." With new management, Woo expects more cost cutting ahead. Former Morgan Stanley (MS) - Get ReportChief Financial Officer Ruth Porat joined Alphabet earlier this year in the same capacity.