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Earnings as Wild Card Halts Stock Selloff

April 22, 2024
minute read

Monday witnessed a resurgence in stock markets, marking the commencement of what promises to be a pivotal week for Corporate America as it unveils first-quarter earnings, shaping the trajectory of equities moving forward.

Approximately 180 S&P 500 companies, representing over 40% of the index's market capitalization, are slated to release their financial results this week. However, all eyes are on the "Magnificent Seven" mega-cap firms, whose profits are anticipated to surge by 38% compared to the previous year, as reported by Bloomberg Intelligence. Against the backdrop of a market rally stymied by surging bond yields and indications of the Federal Reserve's reluctance to implement rate cuts, earnings announcements assume paramount importance.

Matt Maley of Miller Tabak + Co. emphasized the pivotal role of earnings, asserting that favorable guidance is imperative to substantially revise consensus estimates for both 2024 and 2025, if equities are to stage a noteworthy rebound.

Equity strategists at leading financial institutions hold divergent views regarding the feasibility of companies meeting robust earnings projections. While Morgan Stanley's Michael Wilson anticipates an uptick in profit growth amid economic resurgence, JPMorgan Chase & Co.'s Mislav Matejka cites concerns such as inflationary pressures, dollar strength, and geopolitical uncertainties as clouding the outlook.

Bloomberg's Markets Live Pulse survey reflected optimism among respondents, with nearly two-thirds anticipating a boost in the US equity benchmark attributed to earnings—a sentiment not observed since October 2022.

The S&P 500 responded positively, reaching approximately 4,975, after enduring its most challenging week in over a year. Meanwhile, treasuries remained unsettled ahead of a series of bond auctions that will test investor appetite following this year's peak in yields. Oil prices retreated as tensions in the Middle East subsided.

Chris Larkin of E*Trade from Morgan Stanley noted that while concerns persist regarding rising interest rates, inflation, and geopolitical risks, the tech sector may assume a leading role this week.

Hedge funds displayed renewed interest in global equities, particularly tech stocks, despite broader market volatility, marking a bullish shift in sentiment according to Goldman Sachs Group Inc.'s trading desk.

Citigroup Inc. strategists highlighted that while US stocks benefit from robust company fundamentals, elevated growth expectations and sentiment pose challenges moving forward.

UBS Group AG's chief US equity strategist pointed to a slowdown in earnings momentum among big tech companies, prompting the firm to downgrade its sector recommendation on the "Big Six" technology stocks to neutral from overweight.

Jeremy Straub of Coastal Wealth underscored the significance of this week's big tech earnings and Friday's key inflation data, suggesting that disappointing results could prolong the current stock market correction. Nonetheless, he expressed optimism for stocks in 2024 despite potential short-term fluctuations.

Eric Ng
Eric Ng
John Liu
Editorial Board
Bryan Curtis
Adan Harris
Managing Editor
Cathy Hills
Associate Editor

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