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The corporate logo of financial firm Morgan Stanley is pictured on the company's world headquarters in New York in this file photo

Mike Segar/Reuters

The direction for stocks is still up after the Standard & Poor's 500 Index topped its previous closing high, according to Morgan Stanley chief U.S. equity strategist Adam Parker.

The next 10 percent move in the U.S. equities market will be higher as low analyst earnings forecasts, a rising economy and muted investor sentiment paves the way for further gains, Mr. Parker wrote in a note to clients on Monday.

"We can't forecast the market multiple, but we can guess at the next 10 percent move," Mr. Parker wrote in a note to clients. "Why sell the market when numbers are too low, the economy is improving, and you can still romanticize that you are a contrarian bull?"

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Analysts project profits for members of the S&P 500 dropped 5.3 percent in the second quarter, according to data compiled by Bloomberg, an improvement from a 6.6-per-cent decline estimated a month ago.

Just 20 per cent of S&P 500 companies have reported results so far, with earnings 5.1 percent ahead of expectations, according to Mr. Parker. He sees potential for further upward revisions in financials, health-care, consumer discretionary and select energy companies.

Mr. Parker also argues that the U.S. economy is likely to be better in the second half of the year than in the first half, and that sentiment on equities is too low "despite the fact that the market is once again bumping against all-time highs."

The S&P 500 climbed 0.3 per cent to 2,132.21 at 2:31 p.m. in New York, above an all-time closing high set two months ago.

Bull Market

Mr. Parker has been bullish on U.S. stocks all year. In January, undeterred by the worst start to a year for the S&P 500 since 2009, Mr. Parker said the bull market in American stocks can continue for another five years.

He forecasts the benchmark index will end the year at 2,275. That's above the average of 2,232 in a Bloomberg survey of 21 strategists, which includes Mr. Parker, and implies a 6.7 percent rally from current levels.

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Echoing Parker's bullish sentiment, Omega Advisor Inc.'s Steven Einhorn said Sunday that the six-year bull market for U.S. stocks has at least another two years left.

Economic fundamentals remain strong and the pace of interest rate tightening by the Federal Reserve is likely to be gradual, boding well for equities, the vice chairman of the New York-based hedge fund said Sunday on the television program "Wall Street Week."

"There's quite a while to go before this particular bull market ends," he said.

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