The Associated Press interviewed dozens of stock market experts this week to solicit their opinions about the recent rally and ask about the market's direction.

Here is a sampling of their responses, including forecasts of where the Standard & Poor's 500 index will end the year. It traded at about 1,140 Thursday.

EXPERT: Rob Arnott, chairman of Research Affiliates, Newport Beach, Calif.

S&P AT END OF YEAR: Anywhere from up a little to down a lot; between 1,000 and 1,200.

REASONS FOR RALLY: Expectations that the Federal Reserve is poised for another round of "quantitative easing," a form of stimulus in which it would buy Treasury bonds to inject money into the economy; optimism that the U.S. will dodge a double-dip recession.

QUOTE: "I think a lot of this is just misguided optimism. The headwinds we face are pretty daunting."

EXPERT: Kate Warne, investment strategist for Edward Jones, St. Louis.

S&P AT END OF YEAR: Slightly higher, perhaps 1,150 to 1,200.

REASONS FOR RALLY: Better economic news, the Fed's pledge to take steps to avoid deflation, absence of pre-earnings warnings or other bad news from companies.

QUOTE: "The return of investor confidence may be almost as painfully slow as the economic rebound. But investors who shun stocks today may have regrets tomorrow."

EXPERT: John Praveen, chief investment strategist, Prudential Financial, Newark, N.J.

S&P AT END OF YEAR: 1,300.

REASONS FOR RALLY: Fears of a double-dip and deflation were overdone; improved economic growth.

QUOTE: "Markets have always rallied after elections. What we're seeing is just a prelude to that."

EXPERT: King Lip, chief investment officer, Baker Avenue Asset Management, San Francisco.

S&P AT END OF YEAR: 1,200.

REASONS FOR RALLY: Midterm elections expected to hand Republicans some seats, resulting in more balanced federal government; upcoming quarterly earnings reports expected to show improved profit.

QUOTE: "People are looking for the fourth quarter as definitely not being in a super rebound scenario, but it looks like the double-dip scenario is fading at this point in time."

EXPERT: Robert Doll, chief equity strategist, BlackRock, New York.


REASONS FOR RALLY: Economic data turned out to be not as bad as investors thought, coupled with rhetoric out of Washington that was more investor-friendly.

QUOTE: "It's amazing that you can get less bad numbers and the market goes up 10 percent. But put that together with the prospect of an election and more signals that the Bush tax cuts will be renewed, and you get this whoosh up."