Bianco said he expects the decline in oil to bite into corporate profits next year.
“The combination of a strong dollar and a plunge in oil prices—these things are the hallmarks of a profit recession even if the economy is doing fine,” he said. “You can argue this pain is isolated to multinationals and the producers exposed to the industry. … It’s a big problem for them, but it’s hard for other sectors to offset it. If there’s another strong up leg in the dollar, then there’s another headwind on earnings growth.”
He said he is expecting a massive decline in profits in the energy sector, but also very low 2 or 3 percent growth in industrial and materials sector earnings. Industrial earnings are estimated to be 9.7 percent higher this year, Bianco said.
“I think over the course of the year, the market gains, but it’s going to be a tough start,” he said. Bianco said he sees the S&P 500 reaching 2,150 next year. His target for this year is 2,050. He said health care and consumer discretionary should see the best profit growth next year, and also domestic financials are becoming more attractive, particularly with the Fed expected to raise rates around the middle of the year.
Ader said the bond market’s moves this past week were not about the Fed, but more about concerns about deflation, global growth and the fact that U.S. Treasurys look relatively better than low-yielding European or Japanese debt.
“I think the view on the Fed is they’re going to remove the language. They’ll be somewhat namby-pamby on what comes next. I don’t think there’s going to be any forward guidance,” he said.
The Fed is projected to drop the phrase “considerable time,” a reference to how long it would keep rates low. That is expected to reflect a period of about six months. So if the language is removed, markets could take more seriously New York Fed President William Dudley’s comment that the central bank could raise rates by midyear.
“We think they remove ‘considerable time,’ but they say something similar. They probably will express their ‘patience’ in hiking rates, but we do think they will raise rates next year,” said Bianco.
Jim Paulsen, chief investment strategist at Wells Capital Management, said the stronger dollar that comes with the Fed’s interest rate hike could be a challenge. But he said the oil story is not a net negative, and he has been more concerned about the U.S. economy picking up too much while the Fed is on hold.
“People are worried about default risk in the junk bond market … I don’t think it’s broad based outside of that industry. I would argue that this is a huge stimulative event for the global economy. It’s going to bounce growth in Europe, China, Japan and here in 2015. I think it’s just the opposite … and it’s not just energy. There’s a tremendous collapse in longer-term interest rates. You put those two things together, and it’s tremendously stimulative,” he said.
Besides the Fed, there are some important economic reports in the week ahead, including the Empire State and Philadelphia Fed surveys, industrial production and CPI.
Market focus will also stay on the Chinese economy and Europe, where an election in Greece on Wednesday could see anti-bailout officials gaining influence. The parliamentary vote on a president is seen as a vote of confidence in the government of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras.
Japanese elections over the weekend will also be important. BlackRock’s global chief investment strategist, Russ Koesterich, said in a note that Japanese stocks could be winners. He said economic reforms could pick up speed if Prime Minister Shinzo Abe wins, as expected, as Abe would use the mandate to push more aggressively on structural reforms.