First-quarter earnings could derail market's climb
For the stock market, it was a triumphant first quarter. But for earnings growth, the past three months were just ho-hum.
Analysts are expecting earnings for companies in the Standard & Poor's 500 index to decline 0.1 percent compared to a year ago, according to FactSet. It's a tiny number but a significant turning point. Earnings growth was on a winning streak for the previous nine quarters. Year-over-year earnings growth has been at least 10 percent for all but the most recent period, when it was 6 percent.
The reasons for the expected slowdown range from global (a weak Europe hurts everybody) to mathematical (it's hard to top double-digit quarters). Whatever the cause, the stagnation in earnings growth is a stark reminder that the economy's problems are far from solved. Just three months ago, analysts were predicting 3 percent earnings growth for the first quarter.
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