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Barclays boosts S&P 500 target on strong US economy, Big Tech profits

FILE PHOTO: The Wall St entrance to the NYSE is seen in New York

By Lewis Krauskopf and Roshan Abraham

(Reuters) - Barclays on Tuesday raised its year-end 2024 target for the S&P 500 stock index to 5,300 from 4,800, pointing to resiliency in the U.S. economy and earnings strength from "Big Tech."

Barclays' new target represents roughly 4.5% upside to the benchmark index's closing price on Monday.

The new target "reflects our view that inflation will continue to normalize while the economy remains relatively resilient, and that Big Tech will maintain leadership in ... earnings growth," the Barclays strategists said in a research note on Tuesday.

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The strategists bumped up their S&P 500 earnings estimate for full-year 2024 to $235 per share from $233.

"Big Tech EPS estimates have improved considerably, raising the floor for overall S&P 500 earnings," the strategists said.

Broadly, Barclays said the bull and bear cases for the S&P 500 center on Big Tech, reflecting the group's growing influence on the U.S. equity market.

Strong Big Tech earnings could push the index to 6,050, while disappointing results along with a weakening economic backdrop could send the index down to 4,500, Barclays said in the note.

"We believe that risk/reward is tilted toward the bull case, as macro data suggest that the odds of an economic re-acceleration are beginning to outweigh the probability of even a mild recession," the strategists said in the note.

Barclays is the latest brokerage to lift its S&P 500 target price amid a strong start to the year that has seen the index gain over 6% so far in 2024 and hit record highs.

Last week, UBS Global Research raised its year-end forecast for the S&P 500 to 5,400, the highest projection among major global brokerages.

A Reuters poll of 40 strategists published last week estimated the S&P 500 would finish 2024 at 5,100.

(Reporting by Lewis Krauskopf in New York and Roshan Abraham in Bengaluru; Editing by Mark Potter)