While the S&P 500 has doubled since hitting its pandemic low in March 2020, UBS believes stock values are “well supported.” UBS global head of wealth management Mark Haefele expects the S&P 500 to rise to around 5,300 this year. His forecast implies a 5.6% increase from current levels. The benchmark index was trading above the 5,000 level on Friday, after breaching the mark for the first time just before Thursday’s close. Stocks have benefited from corporate earnings and better-than-expected economic data as inflation continues to fall. With the index expected to post a 1% gain this week, it is on track to have five consecutive positive weeks. Haefele said stocks could rise further in the event of a “Goldilocks” economic outcome, in which the U.S. economy remains strong while inflation continues to fall, allowing the central bank to cut interest rates. “We think this would be a particularly positive outcome for small-cap stocks, which benefit most from Fed easing given their greater reliance on floating-rate debt,” he said. While Haefele’s base case calls for the U.S. to achieve a soft economic landing with the S&P 500 ending the year around recent levels, current economic conditions are supporting his bullish case, he said. UBS pointed to a strong fourth-quarter earnings season as an additional catalyst supporting its bullish stance, led by the continued prominence of technology stocks and investor interest in artificial intelligence. Haefele highlighted 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 above the consensus forecast. Of 2%. Consumer spending has also held firm amid higher prices, although inflation is declining. On Friday, the Labor Department released an update to the consumer price index that presented a more optimistic outlook for December inflation. Prices of several common goods rose less than originally reported.