Citigroup's crystal ball gazers reckon the FTSE 100 will hit 8,000 by the end of next year, suggesting the UK’s benchmark index will rise more than 20% in less than 18 months.
In a note entitled ‘REV it up’, Citi’s top European equities tipster Anna Esposito is backing a bullish approach from investors, lifting her 2014 target for the Footsie to 8,000 and sticking to her 7,000 target by the end of this year.
The UK’s blue chip index currently stands at around 6,600, having risen 12% in 2013.
Citi’s Esposito thinks negative GDP and earnings growth will be replaced by positive growth next year, sparking the upgrade.
“We stay bullish on the 12-18 month outlook for UK and European equities. Our new targets imply c25% returns to end-14,” she said.
“Within the market, we think it is sensible to still run a barbell strategy but also to continue to raise exposure to risk/recovery where supported by earnings/cashflow/restructuring.”
She also believes the corporate risk appetite is likely to pick up, meaning more buybacks and M&A activity – hopes of which have been boosted of late by Vodafone’s £85 billion sale of its 45% stake in Verizon Wireless.
The re-privatisation of bailed-out bank Lloyds (LON:LLOY) meanwhile has just begun, and is seen by many as an important step in Britain’s recovery from financial crisis in 2008.
The bank’s shares have fared well in 2013, and are seen in the City as a proxy for the wider UK economy, with investors buying shares as they bet on a British recovery.
It is not just UK equities that are being tipped to drive higher. Esposito also thinks the Stoxx will hit 370 by the end of 2014 and points out that her US colleague Tobias Levkovich is also bullish on the outlook for Wall Street.
He predicts the S&P 500 index will reach 1,900 in the same timeframe.
Esposito lifts her recommendation on the car sector to ‘overweight’, while oil companies drop to ‘underweight’.