If stock investors missed January's upswing, they're out of luck, says Goldman Sachs

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Missed stock market rally in January? Well, then you've probably missed most of the best of 2019, say Goldman Sachs strategists.

The major US benchmarks posted a boomlet last month after a prolonged period in October, which ended December 24 with brutal attacks by bullish investors. This was the worst fall of the session just before Christmas.

From this low point, however, the Dow Jones Industrial Average

DJIA, + 0.62%

The S & P 500 Index has risen by 16.5%

SPX, + 0.35%

The Nasdaq Composite has risen by around 16.3%

COMP, + 0.65%

grew by 19.3%, while Russell 2000 concentrated on small capitalization

FURROW, + 0.17%

has risen by more than 20% according to FactSet data.

Read: The Nasdaq is on the verge of fleeing the bear market

See also: MarketWatch snapshot of the market

"We argued that a slight downturn was likely sometime early in the year, and if investors missed it, there was a risk that the majority of earnings would be missed for the year," wrote Goldman's analyst, including strategist Sharon Bell Peter Oppenheimer in a research report on 4 February.

"The expected rally has been quick, and from here we see relatively low equity returns," Goldman said.

The strategists say the Nadir is unlikely to be retested soon in December, but a period of "flat and scant" trading margins for equity markets is imminent.

"Therefore, we see no reason to return to the December lows. While we experienced a boom on the stock markets in 2019, we also argued that this would be the resumption of a "shallow & narrow" trading range with relatively low equity returns, "said the strategists.

Goldman economists believe that the current US-style environment, which may be more accommodating than it was in December, will support non-US growth and crude oil prices

CLH9, -0.95%

This had declined sharply along with risk assets such as equities.

This backdrop is expected to stabilize the weak global growth that has hit many developed and emerging markets, such as China, although this will not lead to a renewed recovery in US equities.

In the shallow and meager environment, Goldman is bullish or overweight technology, especially in the digital economy and business services, and a health care positive.

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