Baird analyst remains bullish

The U.S. stock market has sputtered this week as analysts speculate that the Federal Reserve Board may be on the verge of tapering its bond-buying program and might even be pondering a slight increase in the core interest rate.

However, despite the hiccup, Bruce Bittles, chief investment strategist of Milwaukee-based Robert W. Baird & Co. Inc., is having none of that. He’s still firmly in the camp of the bulls when it comes to his economic outlook.

In his morning Market Update today, Bittles wrote, “Our posture is that the Fed will not entertain any move that could upset the balance in the economy or the financial markets.”

Bittles added, “The performance of the U.S. economy has been underwhelming for so long that it is difficult to imagine GDP growth rates returning to trend. Short term, the economy faces hurdles at the consumer level. Wages have not kept pace with inflation and with higher taxes disposable income is being squeezed. This is evident in warnings from Wal-Mart and other broad-based retailers that incremental sales have followed an uneven path. Automobile sales have been brisk but borrowing to purchase a car leaves less for other consumer items. The labor markets have improved but, with most of the job creation in part-time work and in low- paying industries, the average household continues to struggle. As a result, the U.S. economy is likely to remain in a slow-growth (2.0 percent) mode intermediate term. Looking further out, the potential for the U.S. economy improves significantly. The ongoing energy transformation and the ingenuity of American industry are two important reasons the U.S. stock market has outperformed nearly all international equity markets. History is filled with examples that show that higher-paying jobs are nearly always connected to gains in technology. Look no further than the Tesla automobile, U.S. advancements in robotics, 3-D printing and the unbelievable progress in gene engineering as examples of where high-paying jobs are plentiful.”

The bottom line for Bittles?

“Fed not likely to upset the balance in the economy or financial markets. Short term
remains problematic due to seasonal and sentiment concerns. Long term, it’s a bull market until proven otherwise,” Bittles wrote.

Steve Jagler is executive editor of BizTimes.

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