First-quarter earnings reports are winding down, and most companies appear to have dodged the dreaded year-over-year decline. That should free investors to refocus their concerns on broader economic data in the week ahead.
Stocks finished the week mixed with the Dow Jones Industrial Average declining 0.2% and the S&P 500 Index ticking up nearly 0.2%. The Nasdaq Composite Index gained 0.8%.
With heavy earnings traffic out of the way for the next six weeks, macroeconomic data is going to carry more heft in the market, said John Canally, chief economic strategist at LPL Financial.
Friday’s expected downward GDP revision will likely be ignored given transitory factors and “statistical noise” as noted by Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen on Friday, he said. Even with the first-quarter weakness, Yellen said she sees the economy well positioned for growth. A better insight into that positioning this week will come in the form of economic data such as April durable goods orders and home sales data, according to Canally.
“In that they give us a sense of a bounce-back, those will be quite important,” the strategist said.
Also, a slew of GDP reports from such countries as the U.K., India, Brazil, Switzerland, and Canada at the end of the week will give investors a better picture of how well the global economic recovery is going, Canally said.
Earnings not great, but no decline
Earnings reports last week nudged the blended earnings growth rate up to 0.3% for the first quarter, a far cry from the estimated 4% drop from a few months ago.
The quarter, however, remained a tough one, especially as a stronger dollar put a dent in international sales for U.S. companies. Of the 12 Dow components that broke out European sales figures, nine reported a year-over-year decline, the highest number since the fourth quarter of 2012, according to John Butters, senior earnings analyst at FactSet.
The stronger dollar is going to remain a challenge for the current quarter. After cooling down a bit since the end of the second quarter, the U.S. dollar DXY, +0.19% picked up some momentum against six other major currencies this past week.
For the broader S&P 500, sales had their worst quarter since 2009 with a 2.9% decline, owing mainly to lower oil prices that rocked the energy sector. Excluding energy sector revenue figures, the S&P 500 would have seen a 2.4% gain, according to FactSet’s Butters.
Though all the Dow components have already released their latest quarterly results, there are still a few S&P 500 components and other notable companies left to report this week.