While the S & P 500 has more doubled since hitting its pandemic low in March 2020, UBS thinks stock values are « well supported » and that the benchmark could exceed its original forecast for 2024. UBS global wealth management chief Mark Haefele said things were lining up for the S & P 500 to make a run toward 5,300 this year, about 6% upside from current levels. The benchmark index was trading above the 5,000 level on Friday , after first breaching the mark just ahead of Thursday’s close. Haefele’s base case for 2024 was a gain to around 5,000, but the S & P 500 has already reached that point in a hurry, up 5% year-to-date. « Recent economic data have highlighted the potential for a period of continued stronger growth, tame inflation, and swifter monetary easing, » wrote Haefele. « In this event, we believe the S & P 500 has the potential to rise to around 5,300 this year. » The benchmark is on pace for five-straight positive weeks as tech shares rally and companies report higher fourth-quarter earnings than expected. Haefele said stocks could rise further in the event of a « Goldilocks » economic outcome, where the U.S. economy remains solid while inflation continues to fall, allowing the central bank to cut interest rates. And a certain segment of the market could especially benefit. « We believe this would be a particularly positive outcome for small-cap stocks, which benefit more from Fed easing given their greater reliance on floating-rate debt, » he said. UBS pointed to a strong fourth-quarter earnings season as an additional catalyst supporting his bull case, led by the continued prominence of tech stocks and investor interest in artificial intelligence. Haefele called out economic data such as last week’s January payrolls report , which showed the labor market has remained strong, and a GDP report that showed annualized growth of 3.3% , which is higher than the 2% consensus forecast. Consumer spending also has been holding up amid higher prices — though inflation is easing. On Friday, the Labor Department released an update to the consumer price index that painted a more upbeat picture for December inflation. Prices for a number of common goods rose less than had been originally reported.