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Citi calls FTSE at 7,000 by end of 2013

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Analysts at Citigroup have hiked their 2013 FTSE 100 forecast to 7,000, suggesting the UK’s blue chip index can still add another 10% by the end of the year.

The call, which makes Citi the most bullish of the leading brokers, is based on a view investors will begin to discount better earnings growth in 2014 ahead of time.

Citi’s European portfolio strategists predict a “real equity bull market in the next couple of years”.

The analysts said investors have already discounted struggling earnings growth rates in Europe and beyond for 2013, and will soon start looking further out.

“We expect economic growth to inflect in 2013 and be accelerating into 2014. This in itself makes double-digit earnings growth more likely in our view.”

The call came as the FTSE completed its best January since 1989, rising 6.4% on the month as the rally seen in the second half of 2012 continues in earnest. The index is currently trading just above 6,300.

With investors’ time horizons already beginning to lengthen, Citi said this process of normalisation “means the equity market will discount 2014 earnings growth in 2013, in our view. Normalisation would also suggest valuation metrics go back to averages, at least.”

Growth of 10% in the fifth year of a recovery is in line with median performance, Citi added, and is supported by a current average return on equity of 11.2% – a figure also in line with that seen at this stage of previous recoveries.

The 7,000 mark would represent an all-time high for the FTSE 100, surpassing the 6,930 level reached in 1999. Citi has also upped its 2014 FTSE target to 7,300.

The group has also hiked its estimates for European equity performance, putting a 330 target on the EuroSTOXX 600 for this year and 345 for 2014. The index is currently trading at 288 points.


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