As investors get jittery about U.S. growth data and the timing of a rate hike by the Federal Reserve, influential investor Dennis Gartman told CNBC Thursday that he's still optimistic about equities - to some extent.
"I think that neutrality is the better part of valor at this point. I've said for years that it's still a bull market and in a bull market there are only three positions that one can have: really long,pleasantly long or neutral," Gartman,the editor and publisher of "The Gartman Letter," told CNBC Thursday
"And I think for the time being, neutrality is the proper course of action." A neutral investor aims to avoid risks by hedging.
Gartman added that he believed U.S. equities would decline between 3 and 5 percent in the coming days or weeks, so neutrality "was the best place to be."
The comments come after data published Wednesday showed the U.S. economy expanded a meager 0.2 percent in the first three months of the year, much slower than expected.
The figures came just hours before the Fed's Open Market Committee concluded a two-day policy meeting Wednesday and affirmed its data-dependent stance on interest rates .
The central bank's statement released after the meeting showed no new guidance on the timing of the rate hike, making the possibility of a June rate increase even less likely.
Gartman said Fed Chair Janet Yellen was looking carefully at labor market statistics and the fallout from the sharp drop in oil prices over the last 10 months, which is impacting the U.S.energy industry and jobs reliant on it.
"The great job creator in the U.S. has been the energy market, but instead now we're seeing the energy market become the loser of jobs, so I think she's probably paying attention to that too," he added.
The data riled markets with Wall Street closing lower and Asian stocks falling overnight as investors showed their concern over the figures.
The Fedis considering monetary policy at a time when the U.S. economy has hit a soft patch, largely blamed on harsh winter weather and a strong dollar .
Gartman said a strong dollar should not hamper markets, however, and said that trying to guess the market's direction on the back on the back of the dollar's direction was a "mug's game."
"I'm surprised how manypeople think a strong dollar is bearish for stocks on balance, it's really not," he said, addingthat the correlation between the greenback and stocks was "negligible, if there is one at all."
"I've seen bull markets with a strong dollar, I've seen bull markets with a weak dollar. I've seen bear markets too with a strong or weak dollar."
- By CNBC's Holly Ellyatt, follow her on Twitter @HollyEllyatt.
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