How close are we to seeing the S&P 500 reach 2,000?
Technically, we are just 28 points away, or 1.4 percent higher, from where the benchmark index closed on Monday. But time-wise, 2,000 may be just a few days away, if Piper Jaffray analyst Craig Johnson is correct.
“We reiterate our call for 2,000 on the [S&P 500] (which we believe will be achieved in coming weeks) and our year-end 2014 price objective of 2,100,” Johnson wrote in a recent note.
Gina Sanchez, founder of Chantico Global, doesn’t agree with Johnson’s bullish call. She says 2,100 isn't coming anytime soon.
“In order to have that belief, you have to assume that we’re going to put everything that happened in 2014 behind us in terms of downward revisions,” said Sanchez, a CNBC contributor. Investors would also have to have optimistic expectations about the first half of 2015, she added.
“There continues to be slack in the labor market,” she said. “It’s hard to be superoptimistic in that.”
Adding to her skepticism is the advanced age of the bull market. The S&P 500 has been up every year since 2009.
“Every single bull run has got to come to an end,” Sanchez said. “The longer they take to come to an end, the harder they fall. So at some point, we’re going to have to reconcile the valuations with the fundamentals, and the fundamentals still aren’t strong yet.”
According to Richard Ross, global technical strategist at Auerbach Grayson, the S&P 500’s recent strength could ultimately be its weakness.
Ross, a “Talking Numbers” contributor, notes the S&P 500 has successfully held its 150-day moving average the seven times it has been tested since December 2012. What’s more, each of the S&P 500’s 10 sectors is up year-to-date.
“They are all above their 200-day moving averages and their respective 50-week moving averages,” Ross said. “Clearly, this is still a bull market. But of course, we often see strong price action at market tops. In fact, that’s why they are tops. Stocks are not strong at bottoms, obviously.”
Surprisingly, the longer-term chart on the S&P 500 also concerns Ross because of its strength. The index is now nearly 400 points above its 150-week moving average, and has been above that smoothing mechanism since 2010.
“Not unprecedented, but a remarkable streak,” Ross commented.
He also notes that the S&P 500 has been above its 50-week moving average, currently at 1,848, for the last couple of years. A pullback to that level would mean a 6 percent decline, not unheard of even in recent years.
“People don’t like to hear that at some point, the market will go lower,” Ross said. “But that’s a fact, and I think that the closer we get to those big psychological levels like the 2,000 level, the closer we are to a market top.”
Some fundamental factors may provide the catalyst, according to Ross.
“Europe already is eroding,” he said. “Commodities are eroding. Interest rates have reached climactic lows. And emerging market currencies are already weakening. You’re starting to see that macro backdrop erode as the U.S. soldiers higher. I think that’s a divergence which just cannot go on for too much longer."
To see the full discussion on the S&P 500, with Sanchez on the fundamentals and Ross on the technicals, watch the above video.