You can probably relate: Every year, come January 1, I just can't help but feel that "every little thing is gonna be all right," as Bob Marley sang.
This year, the mainstream financial community is sharing the same sentiment. Here's how EWI's Steve Hochberg summarized it [emphasis added]:
At its conclusion, 2011 was marked by back-and-forth stock swings that resulted in essentially a flat market. My Bloomberg screen shows that the DJIA ended up 5.53% for the year, the S&P was flat...while the NASDAQ was down 1.80%. The broadest aggregate measure of stock market performance, the DJ Wilshire 5000, which includes nearly all stocks that trade, ended 2011 down 1%.
The Dow's action masks a strongly negative stock market performance overseas. For instance, in U.S. dollar terms, the Euro Stoxx 50 Index was down nearly 20% in 2011, with the FTSE down almost 6%, the French CAC off almost 20% and the German DAX down over 17%. Asian markets were also hit hard. The S&P Asia 50 lost over 15%, the Nikkei declined 13%, the Hang Seng was off 20%, the Shanghai Composite ended 2011 down over 18%, while Australia was lower by 14%. All were down in euro terms, too.
But not to worry: a recent USA Today article notes that a "quick survey of New Year's prognostications from investment strategists suggests stocks might deliver the double-digit gains that they have put up, on average, over the long term. A snapshot of 2012 year-end-price targets from five firms shows an average gain of 10.5% for stocks."
Very optimistic, indeed!
Except, when have we heard that kind of talk before?
The "10.5%" forecasted gains for the coming year is interesting because it is almost exactly the average forecasted gains for stocks for 2011, as the subheading in the following Barron's cover story from December 2010 shows.
That's right. A year ago, forecasts for stocks in 2011 were just as optimistic as they are now for 2012 -- and largely for the same reasons: improving economy, recovering real estate and jobs markets, and a host of other "better fundamentals."
From an Elliott wave perspective, the reason 2011 mainstream financial forecasts fell flat was simple: Stocks don't follow the economy. It's the other way around: The economy follows stocks.
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This article was syndicated by Elliott Wave International and was originally published under the headline New Year, New High Hopes for Stocks. EWI is the world's largest market forecasting firm. Its staff of full-time analysts led by Chartered Market Technician Robert Prechter provides 24-hour-a-day market analysis to institutional and private investors around the world.