It will need just a spark to get US stock markets headed back onto growth and new highs. Image Credit: New York Stock Exchange

New York: US stock markets will deliver among the steepest recoveries in their history over the next year = returning to levels from before March's coronavirus lockdowns more than twice as fast as after the 2008 financial crisis, according to analysts at Citigroup.

The bank forecast the S&P 500 index and Dow Jones Industrial Average index would stand at 3,160 points and 28,400 points respectively in June 2021, up about 7 per cent and 15.5 per cent from current levels.

The forecast is among the most bullish among US market forecasters, many of whom are forecasting next to no gains for the next 12 months.

Citigroup's forecast would see the two indexes recoup 81 per cent and 90 per cent of the losses they suffered from February's record peaks in 465 days. The equivalent recovery after the 2008 crash took the S&P 500 1,107 days and the Dow 1,288 days.

The S&P 500 closed at 2,953.91 points on Monday and the Dow Jones at 24,597.37.

A lot depends on a cure

The optimistic targets reflect expectations for improved economic performance next year and in 2022, analyst Tobias Levkovich said in the note. "Embedded in the forecast is an expectation for COVID-19 vaccines and treatments that lift many of the hindrances to 'back to normal' practices that still are in place currently," he said.

"While some industries could face permanent long-term damage, the Great Pause will reverse itself as time progresses."

After the 1987 stock market crash the indexes also took more than 18 months to make such recoveries, though both then and in 2008, the losses also took longer than this time around.

The unknowns

Citi does include a note of caution, calling out unemployment, the US presidential election and possibly tighter lending standards as risks, and expects a pullback before year's end.

However, the forecasts are no comparison to the market performance after the Great Depression, when it took the Dow Jones 22 years to recover 90 per cent of its pre-crash level.