Breakout

Happy New Year? Stocks Set to Plunge in 2012

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A week ago, when the initial jobless claims number had just declined for 2 straight weeks, I half-jokingly said that some investor out there would probably grab onto this paltry coincidence and try to turn it into the start of a trend. Well, it's happened again, and this time there are even more superlatives to grab onto and the trend-spotters are all over it.

Officially, the number of first-time filers slipped for the 3rd consecutive week, bringing the headline number below 400,000 again (388,000) to levels not seen since February. And the 4-week average, which smooths out the results a bit, is also now at levels not seen since the Spring.

If it weren't for those crazy bond yields in Europe and the escalating protests on Wall Street today, we'd be running with this improving data theme and well on our way to euphoria.

But alas, we're not. In fact, the best thing this budding "good news story" can claim is that, for now, it's keeping us from going backwards.

"I think the big takeaway is that both areas (the U.S. and Europe) are slower than normal," says Bill Greiner, the chief investment officer of Scout Investments. In the attached clip, Greiner explains why he's staying defensive and what's behind his forecast that will soon bring a 20% sell-off in the S&P 5oo.

"We're expecting sometime next year the possibility of the S&P trading to the mid 1050 1040 range is a decent possibility," he says. This implies a PE ratio of just 9 or 10 times estimated earnings versus about 13 or 14 times today.

The silver lining to that forecast is that it would make for a very attractive entry level.

Interestingly, while Greiner likes the Asian growth story right now, he has no exposure to China, citing concerns about contractual law.

"Want to make sure that before we put a dime to work in a country that we can get it out of there," he says.

Year-end rally or not, how are you positioning for the New Year? Let us know in the comment section below.

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