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Citi’s Top Equity Strategist Feeling Frisky

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Frisky enough, anyway, to go out on a 2.5% limb.

Tobias Levkovich, chief U.S. equity strategist at Citigroup, lifted his S&P 500 year-end target to 2000 from 1975. After a weather-induced contraction in first-quarter economic growth, Mr. Levkovich predicts “a stronger economy for the balance of the year,” including a strong pickup in the current quarter, which should bode well for earnings growth.

“Large cap US equities are approaching year-end targets more rapidly than had been anticipated, supported by respectable earnings,” Mr. Levkovich said. “With the S&P 500 up 4.4% year-to-date and our late 2013 expectation for a 2014 full-year gain of about 7.0%, it seems appropriate to reconsider the market outlook especially in the face of better-than-expected profits.”

The S&P 500 waffled between small gains and losses on Monday and recently rose two points to 1938. It hit a closing record high of 1951.27 on June 9, a level that few strategists predicted it would hit by the end of the year, let alone less than halfway through the year….

In addition to his year-end target, Mr. Levkovich predicts the S&P 500 will trade in the 2040-to-2060 range by the middle of next year. Such a move would amount to a gain of about 5% or 6% from current levels.

Citigroup: S&P 500 to 2000 by Year’s End [WSJ MoneyBeat blog]