Wall Street pros are looking for some very specific factors to see if they signal that the brutal bear market for stocks is nearing an end.

Chief among them is cooling inflation, which would then imply a halt in stock market damaging interest rate hikes from the Federal Reserve.

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“I think the bear market can’t end until inflation shows consistent signs of moderating,” said Nuveen Chief Investment Officer Saira Malik on Yahoo Finance Live. “The Fed may not be talking about rate cuts at that point, but we need to see more consistent data.”

On Thursday, markets closed out the worst first half of a year since 1970. The Nasdaq Composite and Russell 2000 are having their worst year ever, as Yahoo Finance’s Jared Blikre detailed in Thursday’s Morning Brief. The Dow Jones Industrial Average, meanwhile, is off to its worst start since 1962.

“I don’t know that [the bear market] is over yet,” Truist Co-Chief Investment Officer Keith Lerner recently said on Yahoo Finance Live. “I think there is going to be a difference in the way that we come out of this relative to the last decade. If you think about the last decade, you had a lot of V-shaped recoveries for the market. And why did we have them? Because the Federal Reserve had the market’s back.”

Malik added that weakening consumer spending “leads us to our key risk for the second half for equities. And that’s earnings and whether they’re going to be the next shoe to drop. I think with the consumer weakening, fears of a recession, and the fact that estimates really haven’t come down, we’re worried about companies’ forecasts for the second half of this year.”

A large metal sculpture in the shape of a key adorns a vineyard on Oak Knoll Road as viewed on October 15, 2015, in Rutherford, California. (Photo by George Rose/Getty Images)

Brian Sozzi is an editor-at-large and anchor at Yahoo Finance. Follow Sozzi on Twitter @BrianSozzi and on LinkedIn.

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