JPMorgan took the lead Friday in the battle of the bulls, raising its year-end price target for the Standard & Poor’s 500 (^GSPC) to 1,715. That’s a big leap from the firm’s original projection of 1,580, which the index blew through on April 24.
The forecast is the highest call among Wall Street strategists, who are uniformly optimistic about the market’s prospects this year.
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“The timing of an increase in the target is not ideal as equity prices hover near highs,” Thomas J. Lee, JPMorgan’s chief market strategist, said in a report for clients. “On the other hand, we do not believe investors should be paring their holdings.”
Despite an array of headwinds, the most notable of which is anemic U.S. economic growth, the market has surged to a succession of record highs.
The S&P 500 has gained 15.7 percent this year, led by mostly defensive plays in health care, consumer stocks and financial sectors.