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The Bull, the Bear & the Base Case for 2013


It's that time of year again when we're counting down the final days of 2012 and busy making plans and predictions for what lies ahead for the New Year. Even luminaries such as Thomas Jefferson got in on the action, presciently declaring nearly 200 years ago, "I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them."

In the great scheme of predictions, Jefferson's forecast was not only plausible but was as much a reflection of his core beliefs as some sort of attempt to gauge the future.

To that extent, Jeff Kleintop, the chief market strategist at LPL Financial, has taken his crystal ball out of the attic and is once again looking into the future. He joined us on Breakout to lay out his road map for 2013.

"It's a bit of Groundhog Day," he says in the attached video. "A lot of this looks the same [as 2012] with valuations fairly low and earnings growth pretty sluggish as well," he explains, outlining the reasons why he has more confidence in his base case outlook than his bull or bear scenarios. "So in that environment, it's hard to see a big stock market rally but its equally hard to see a big bear market as well."

Bottom line, he's looking for lukewarm, low single-digit returns for stocks and bonds next year, with a bias for cyclicals in the first-half and defensives in the second-half.

Specifically, he expects a fiscal cliff resolution rally, more follow through on the real estate recovery front, as well as some modest advances in hiring and consumer spending to keep things moving blissfully along for the early part of the year.

That all changes, Kleintop predicts, as we move into the second half of 2013. "All those concerns come back again," he says, regarding debt and deficit and worries, and concerns about slowing growth and earnings.

As far as allocation goes, Kleintop favors cash and emerging market growth exposure that comes with large cap multinationals. More broadly, he's a buyer of foreign stocks too, saying "it's really about China's return to growth." It's a factor he says will have a positive ripple effect on the region and the world.

And finally, on the bond front, with the Fed committed to low rates for years to come, Kleintop likes the "7, 8, 9% yields" that can be found in the corporate high yield debt markets.