Expect a ‘choppy’ July before an end-of-year blowout, Blackstone’s Zidle says

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The Dow just ended the quarter with its weakest gains since 2006, as uncertainty over trade policy kept investors on the back foot.

However, one market bull is sticking with his forecast for big gains into year-end, but not before more of the same jerky trading through the rest of the summer.

“The month of July might be choppy,” said Joe Zidle, investment strategist at Blackstone, on CNBC’s “Futures Now” Thursday. “It’s summer. Trade is still going to be in focus.”

During the last part of June, trade fears put pressure on markets. Since the middle of the month, the S&P 500 Index has dropped 2.2 percent, while the Dow dropped 3.3 percent. Investors have grown fearful that an increasingly bellicose tone from the Trump administration and retaliatory tariffs from China could erupt into a full-blown trade war.

“Trade is going to be a risk. Rising protectionism could slow growth, it’s going to be inflationary,” said Zidle.

Higher tariffs “over the long term could cause countries to turn inward and I think that’s very bad for global trade and global growth, but I think it’s a little too early to say that that’s where we’re going to end up,” he added.

As the weather cools off, cooler heads will prevail, Zidle predicts. He expects the markets’ focus to return to the bullish fundamentals.

“We think earnings will accelerate for the rest of the year, and 2018 should see a year where earnings are up over 20 percent on a year over year basis,” he said. “As we get into the fall that earnings strength is going to win out.”

S&P 500 companies are expected to post full-year earnings growth of 21 percent, according to FactSet estimates. This would mark the first year of double-digit earnings growth since 2011.

“Those types of fundamentals I think are going to be what pushes the market toward our 3,000 target at the end of the year,” added Zidle.

A move to 3,000 represents a 10 percent increase from the S&P 500’s current levels, and a 12 percent advance for the full year. Such an increase would also mark all-time highs, surpassing the record set on Jan. 26.

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