Global stocks set for partial, lackluster and uneven recovery

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BENGALURU (Reuters) -Global stocks are forecast to recover from current levels but stay well below record highs this year and next as a majority of more than 150 equity analysts polled by Reuters predicted a rebound that is both lackluster and uneven.

Unlike previous episodes where investors saw corrections as opportunities to pick up stocks at a bargain, the current downtrend was expected to be more persistent, underscoring the deteriorating outlook for risk assets.

That shift in view was largely down to stocks no longer having a backstop from central bankers, who are turning off the liquidity taps and are now more focused on fighting decades-high inflation by hiking interest rates, in many cases aggressively.

While analysts were predicting a dull year for equities in the previous poll, taken only days before Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine, the war threw stocks into disarray, with the U.S. Standard & Poor’s 500 nearly in an official bear market last week.

The May 12-24 Reuters polls covering 17 major indices showed most major bourses struggling to recoup year-to-date losses by end-2022. Almost all were expected to end the year below lifetime highs, and remain below them by mid-2023.

“Global equities are in the midst of a bear market that is not yet finished. Macro and earnings data points continue to soften as global economies move toward later-cycle phases. Furthermore, our work shows that earnings revisions are slowing globally,” noted Michael Wilson, chief U.S. equity strategist and chief investment officer at Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS).

Over three-quarters of analysts, 79 of 104, who answered a separate question said the current downturn would last at least another three months.

While 48 said three to six months, 21 said six to nine months, six said nine to 12 months, and four said over a year. The remaining 25 chose less than three months.

Underscoring that negative outlook, end-2022 medians for 16 of 17 indices polled were downgraded from the February polls.

Only the outlook for Mexico’s IPC index was upgraded, and just by a slight amount.

The wider range of forecasts for end-2022 compared with the February poll, despite being three months closer, shows a greater degree of uncertainty about what lies ahead.

Nearly 60% of analysts, 61 of 104, who answered an additional question expected volatility, which is off its highs for the year, to increase in their local markets over the coming three months. The remaining 43 said it would decrease.

“As growth slows, and inflation remains sticky, markets will exhibit more volatility,” said Sameer Samana, senior global market strategist at Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC) Investment Institute.

Value stocks were expected to outperform growth stocks for the remainder of the year by 82 respondents while 23 said growth stocks would outperform.

While Wall Street strategists expected the S&P 500 to end 2022 above current beaten-down levels and gain over 10%, it was not expected to recoup all of its near-17% losses for the year. [EPOLL/US]

Even the volatile Sao Paulo Bovespa stock index, up a little over 5% this year, was expected to rise less than previously forecast as jitters ahead of a national election and double-digit interest rates prompt a switch to deposit accounts. [EPOLL/BR]

European shares, which have sunk over 10% so far this year, suffering their worst start to a year since the COVID-19 outbreak in 2020 and their second-worst start since 2008, were also not expected to mark any significant gains. [EPOLL/FRDE]

India’s equity markets were expected to mark their first annual decline in seven years in 2022 as higher interest rates and weakening growth prospects reduce the chances of a quick rebound from this year’s already sharp drop. [EPOLL/IN]

(Other stories from the Reuters global stock markets poll package:)