Corporate America is set to unleash its biggest profit-reporting fest in at least a decade next week, with more than 190 members of the S&P 500 index .
The line up accounts for around 40 percent of the benchmark index’s value, or more than $7.7 trillion, and includes big names like Google’s parent Alphabet Inc (GOOGL.O), Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O), Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) and Exxon Mobil Corp (XOM.N).
The onslaught could keep U.S. stock investors’ focus largely on earnings next week even as the world’s attention is likely to be drawn elsewhere.
“That would be our hope,” said Joe Zidle, portfolio strategist at Richard Bernstein Advisors in New York.
“A lot of people looked at this market and said it was the result of the Trump bump or the Hillary relief rally,” while earnings have been rebounding, he said. “The faster earnings growth is underappreciated by investors.”
Many strategists have attributed the 10 percent rally in the S&P 500 .INX since Donald Trump’s victory over Hillary Clinton in the Nov. 8 U.S. presidential election to optimism Trump would boost the domestic economy through tax cuts and an infrastructure spending binge.
The gains drove market valuations recently to their highest since 2004, even with little progress in Washington on the fiscal policy front. Meanwhile, other anxiety-provoking events have grabbed headlines, including unsettling relations with North Korea and this weekend’s election in France, which has a bearing on the country’s membership in the European Union and its currency, the euro.
Upbeat earnings from Morgan Stanley (MS.N) and other banks so far this reporting period cushioned those geopolitical worries, helping push the S&P 500 .SPX up 0.9 percent this week, its best such performance in two months. Shares of smaller companies did even better, with S&P’s benchmark indexes for small .SPCY and mid-cap .IDX stocks notching their best weeks of 2017, with gains of between 2 percent and 3 percent.
Expectations for the quarter’s profit growth have risen as well, and the first three months of the year now appear set to mark the strongest quarterly earnings growth in more than five years. In the last week alone, expected S&P 500 first-quarter earnings per share growth rose to 11.2 percent from 10.4 percent, a more than 7 percent jump, according to Thomson Reuters data.
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