The Earnings Challenge

The earnings challenge is on. Despite the fact that the fiscal policy agenda that had the U.S. stock market so exciting coming into 2017 has increasingly disintegrated as the year has progressed, the catapult higher in stock prices has been justified instead by the strong improvement in corporate earnings. With economic growth forecasts continuing to fade and onus is increasingly on corporate earnings to continue to lift the U.S. stock market higher or at least keep it on its lofty perch. While the second quarter earnings season is now largely in the books, the earnings challenge is now fully taking shape for the remainder of 2017.

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Coming Down

One quarter of the latest earnings reporting season for 2017 Q2 is now in the books. And unlike the impressive strength seen throughout the previous reporting season, reported earnings this time around are coming down from initial expectations. Whether they stabilize or how much further they drop in the weeks ahead remain to be seen, but this latest development is a somewhat troubling start for a market that badly needs to maintain corporate earnings growth with tightening monetary policy looming on the horizon.

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Have We Already Peaked?

Corporate earnings growth has been robust coming out of the latest profit recession. Following nearly two years of declining S&P 500 as reported annual earnings from 2015 Q1 to 2016 Q3, profit growth turned positive on a year over year basis in 2016 Q4 and accelerated with double-digit gains in 2017 Q1. On this measure, it appears that the corporate earnings outlook is becoming increasingly stellar as we move through the remainder of 2017. But taking a look at corporate earnings through another widely used measure suggests that all may not be so rosy when it comes to the strength of corporate earnings.

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It All Comes Down To This

Stocks remain on an all-time high. The second longest stock bull market in history is showing no signs of letting up, and corporate earnings are white hot coming off of the 2017 Q1 earnings season that was one of the best in years. What is not to love about the U.S. stock market as we head into the second half of 2017?

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Time To Get Real

Corporate earnings have been a bright spot for the U.S. stock market over the past several months. And the first quarter of 2017 was one of the strongest quarters in this regard in recent memory. But this wondrous period is now all but over, and in a couple of weeks, we will enter the new earnings season for 2017 Q2. Profit forecasts have been holding steady as of late, but market fundamentals may be put to the test once the new earnings season gets underway.

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