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Get ready for the 'Scrooge market' of 2019, investor says

Scrooge fan David James stands outside his house which is three doors away from Charles Dickens’ birthplace on February 7, 2012 in Portsmouth, England. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

The dreaded down wave is coming, says Yves Lamoureux, president of market research firm Lamoureux and Co. He believes it’s all downhill from here and expects the U.S. stock market to lose 10% next year, bucking most Wall Street forecasts for a less-stellar-but-still-higher 2019 outcome.

“For the many it will be a scrooge market in 2019,” Lamoureux told Yahoo Finance in an email.

Lamoureux uses behavioral models to predict market fluctuations and foresees a “nasty divergence” developing between equity prices and fear in the markets. That was exacerbated by Monday’s news that a supposed truce between the United States and China in their growing trade war was less stable than U.S. President Donald Trump and the White House had suggested in public comments.

Tuesday’s market sell-off was the death knell of the so-called Santa Claus rally many market participants are hoping for, Lamoureux said. He also points to still soft oil prices, which last month had fallen 30% in just seven weeks.

While Lamoureux has been a long-time advocate of buying gold and an often vociferous critic of the market, he has also called for shorting cannabis stocks ahead of their fall, shorting oil, and going long on tech stocks ahead of their rally earlier in the year.

Others are also beginning to doubt that the fundamentals of the market are sound going into 2019.

“After a roller coaster ride in 2018 driven by tighter financial conditions and peaking growth, we expect another range-bound year driven by disappointing earnings and a Fed that pauses,” Michael Wilson, Morgan Stanley’s chief equity strategist, wrote in a note to clients.

Wilson expects an impending earnings recession next year as the Federal Reserve continues to tighten U.S. financial conditions and slowing growth begins to weigh on corporate profits. The past two years of growth, margin expansion and the boost from lower taxes in 2018 “will be hard to replicate next year,” Wilson said.

Not everyone is ready to hit the sell button for 2019. Wells Fargo strategists are broadly positive in their expectations for returns next year, with Audrey Kaplan, Wells Fargo’s head of global equity strategy, expecting 10% growth in earnings per share for U.S. equities and 10% market appreciation.

Further, Kaplan says Wells’ highest conviction recommendation is emerging market equities, which are generally seen as more risky. Wells upgraded its view of EM to favorable in September, Kaplan said, and has further upped the ante in recent days with the “highest conviction recommendation” label.

Despite the name of its 2019 outlook report, “The end of easy,” Paul Christopher, Wells Fargo’s head of global market strategy, said he sees more good than bad on the horizon.

“The economy really is quite strong at the moment and we think it mainly preserves that quality next year,” Christopher said during a meeting with reporters Wednesday. “The end of easy means not the end of growth, but growth will come with more difficulty with some concerns.”

Watch the bond market

Still, Wells Fargo’s bond outlook was much less bullish and some say that’s where the warning bells about 2019 are really ringing. Some analysts say the inversion of the 2- and 5-year Treasury notes as well as the 3- and 5-year Treasury notes that happened early this week are sending a strong signal that the highly watched 2-year and 10-year notes will soon invert, signaling a recession is on its way. The 2-10 yield curve last inverted ahead of the 2007-2009 financial crisis and has happened before every U.S. recession since the 1950s.

Jeffrey Gundlach, chief executive officer of DoubleLine Capital, told Reuters on Tuesday that the inverted curve on short-end maturities was signaling that the “economy is poised to weaken.”

“If the bond market trusts the Fed’s latest words about ‘data dependency’ then the totally flat Treasury note curve is predicting softer future growth (and) will stay the Fed’s hand,” said Gundlach, who oversees more than $123 billion in assets.

“If that is indeed to be the case, the recent strong equity recovery is at risk from fundamental economic deterioration, a message that is sounding from the junk bond market, whose rebound has been far less impressive,” he added.

Dion Rabouin is a global markets reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter: @DionRabouin.