Stocks are acting like it's only the second year of a bull market, strategist Jim Paulsen says

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Stocks are acting like it’s only the second year of a bull market, strategist Jim Paulsen told CNBC on Monday. 

In an interview on “The Exchange,” Paulsen said he wasn’t arguing that the market is in a “fresh” bull phase, but only that “the market move this year is very comparable” to the first year of a bull market. 

“In the second year of a bull, things do change,” the Leuthold Group’s chief investment strategist said. “The fear … and doubt about the recovery persisting gives way to more optimism that maybe this thing is for real and you’re starting to see some of that pick up.” 

The inflection point for this rally within a larger, almost 11-year rally was last December’s market sell-off, Paulsen said. 

But after the worst December since the Great Depression, the S&P 500 has risen around 28% year-to-date. At the time, Paulsen predicted a sharp rally would follow the sell-off, arguing that Wall Street was too bearish. 

In 2020, Paulsen said he believes improving fundamentals will be complemented by stronger earnings growth.

If that happens, the long-time market bull said the S&P 500 may reach an area of 3,500 to 3,600, which is the “average second-year bull market run in the post-war period.”

That represents a roughly 11% gain from Monday’s intraday levels. 

Paulsen’s comments Monday come as the all three major indexes are now trading below their all-time highs. Even with the declines on the second-to-last day of trading of the year, 2019 has still been a record-breaking year for stocks. 

Paulsen’s positive outlook for U.S. stocks next year is dwarfed by his belief that 2020 will be a strong year for emerging markets

“This will be like the third time we’ve had re-acceleration in the global recovery just in this expansion alone. We had it in 2012 and 2013. We had it again in 2017 [and] 2018,” he told CNBC’s “Trading Nation” earlier this month. “Every time that’s happened, international stocks have beat U.S. stocks, and I think they will again.”

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