LONDON (Reuters) - Global equity markets are poised for better returns in 2017, as a mix of inflation, stronger economic growth and shareholder-friendly policy increases demand for stocks, Societe Generale said on Thursday.
The French investment bank holds a cautious view on British mid-caps, however, warning that the effects of Britain's decision to leave the European Union are not yet priced in.
Political risks could also become a source of stress in 2017 again, with general elections due in Germany and France. But any dislocations would probably provide opportunities for investors, SocGen said.
"After a flattish 2016, we expect global equities to deliver higher returns in 2017 thanks to stronger economic growth, higher inflation prints and more active shareholder policies," strategists at Societe Generale said in a note.
Societe Generale sees the U.S. S&P 500 at 2,400 by the end of 2017, Europe's STOXX 600 at 370 and Japan's Nikkei at 20,500, implying upside of 9 to 12 percent.
This year, the S&P has gained around 8 percent, but the Nikkei is down around 4 percent and the STOXX 600 about 7 percent.
Societe Generale's optimism is based on hopes for more fiscal stimulus and inflation in 2017, following Donald Trump's election as U.S. president this month. The strategists also said that mergers, acquisitions and share buybacks would help to support investor returns.
Political uncertainty in the first half of the year and the potential for protectionist trade policies from the United States were identified as the main risk for global equities. However, it expects the German and French elections to deliver market-friendly outcomes.
SocGen sees the euro zone Euro Stoxx 50 at 3,300 by the end of 2017, a 9.4 percent rise, Britain's FTSE 100 at 7,500, a 10.7 percent rise, and Germany's DAX at 12,000, a 13.6 percent rise.
It has a "short" call on the mid-cap FTSE 250, saying that lower growth, higher inflation and pension problems as a result of the Brexit vote would weigh on the index.
"We are cautious on the FTSE 250, more domestic than the FTSE 100, as it is trading above its pre-referendum level despite the outlook for much lower GDP growth and much higher inflation," strategists said in the note.
"The FTSE 100 should benefit from its value tilt, higher commodity prices and weaker sterling."
The rotation into growth-sensitive areas and out of more defensive names, which has been a major theme since Trump's election, was set to continue, Societe Generale said.
The bank said it was overweight consumer discretionary, oil and gas and financials. It holds underweight positions in telecoms, utilities and consumer staples.
(Reporting by Alistair Smout and Peter Hobson; Editing by Vikram Subhedar)