The current bull market in global stocks has earned investors more than an entire year's output for the U.S. economy, Merrill Lynch research calculates, and the incredible winning streak might have more room to run.
Equities markets turned the corner in early February of last year, lifting the S&P 500 to a string of at least eight all-time highs and a near 35% gain. That has taken the broadest measure of global stocks, the MSCI All-Country World Index, to its highest valuation in history. Merrill says the run, across all markets around the world, has created $18.5 trillion in new value, "an amount equivalent to the entire US GDP."
Equities have generated an annualized return of 24% so far this year, Merrill said, more than triple the 7% returns extracted from the bond market. Both commodities (-2%) and the U.S. dollar (-11%), however, are still in the red after nine months of trading.
The scorching returns aren't set to cool, either, according to the investment bank, which pegs a 2,630 target for the S&P 500 by the end of the year, a move that would add another 4.7% to the benchmark's 12.1% year-to-date gain. It also sees the Nasdaq Composite rising to 6,666 points, another 3.3% from the tech-focused index's near 20% gain so far this year. Thank you, Apple (AAPL) - Get Apple Inc. (AAPL) Report and Facebook (FB) - Get Facebook, Inc. Class A Report .
"The best reason to be bearish is ... there is no reason to be bearish," Merrill said.
However, the bank does see a significant spike in U.S Treasury yields on the back of renewed rate hike signals from the Federal Reserve and the promise of tax reform from President Donald Trump.
Merrill sees benchmark 10-year Treasuries trading at 2.85% by year-end, a move that would add more than half a percent to their current levels. The surge would be well past the 2.6% barrier that Bill Gross of Janus Henderson has said is the "key to interest rate levels and perhaps stock price levels in 2017."
"Investment happiness and/or despair may lie ahead over the next 12 months depending on it," Gross said earlier this year.
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