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Earnings grew in the third quarter.
Four times a year, during earnings season, publicly traded companies report how well they performed during the previous quarter. The strength of corporate earnings – also known as bottom-line profits – is one of the economic indicators that investors watch closely.
When companies consistently grow earnings, investors feel confident they may continue to do so. Consequently, solid earnings can help lift a company’s share price. The opposite is also true. When earnings are lower than expected, investors may lose confidence in a company or look for better relative opportunities. As a result, weak earnings may lead to a company’s share price falling.
Companies in the Standard & Poor’s 500 (S&P 500) Index have been in an “earnings recession.” That occurs when year-over-year earnings decline for two consecutive quarters. The earnings of companies in the S&P 500 retreated for three consecutive quarters – from October 2022 through June 2023, reported John Butters of FactSet.
Last week, with 92 percent of companies in the S&P 500 reporting on third-quarter performance, overall earnings were up 4.1 percent, year-over-year. The earnings recession is over. While that’s positive news, concerns about slowing economic growth and the possibility of recession caused many analysts to lower estimates for fourth-quarter earnings by more than usual, reported FactSet.
Year-over-year earnings growth for the fourth quarter is estimated to be 3.2 percent, down from estimates of 8 percent at the end of September. Analysts also lowered forecasts for the first half of 2024. They expect earnings growth to be 6.7 percent year-over-year in the first quarter, and 10.5 percent year-over-year in the second quarter.
Downward earnings revisions reflect current market uncertainty. Last week, in a Bloomberg opinion piece, economist Mohamed El-Erian explained that while many hope for a soft economic landing, “There are multiple other plausible scenarios for the trajectory of interest rates...frustrating as it is for many of us seeking clarity, there is a range of possible reasons why policy rates may decline in 2024, and their economic and market implications can vary significantly. Conversely, there are also reasons why rates may remain elevated for most of next year.”
Last week, investors appeared to embrace the idea that a soft landing and lower rates may be ahead. Major U.S. stock indices gained led by big technology and growth stocks, while the Treasury market remained relatively calm. At week’s end, the yield on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury was 4.6 percent.
Weekly Focus – Think About It
“Maturity, one discovers, has everything to do with the acceptance of ‘not knowing’”.
-Mark Z. Danielewski, House of Leaves
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* This newsletter was prepared by Carson Coaching. Carson Coaching is not affiliated with the named registered investment adviser.
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* Government bonds and Treasury Bills are guaranteed by the U.S. government as to the timely payment of principal and interest and, if held to maturity, offer a fixed rate of return and fixed principal value. However, the value of fund shares is not guaranteed and will fluctuate.
* Corporate bonds are considered higher risk than government bonds but normally offer a higher yield and are subject to market, interest rate and credit risk as well as additional risks based on the quality of issuer coupon rate, price, yield, maturity, and redemption features.
* The Standard & Poor's 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged group of securities considered to be representative of the stock market in general. You cannot invest directly in this index.
* All indexes referenced are unmanaged. The volatility of indexes could be materially different from that of a client’s portfolio. Unmanaged index returns do not reflect fees, expenses, or sales charges. Index performance is not indicative of the performance of any investment. You cannot invest directly in an index.
* The Dow Jones Global ex-U.S. Index covers approximately 95% of the market capitalization of the 45 developed and emerging countries included in the Index.
* The 10-year Treasury Note represents debt owed by the United States Treasury to the public. Since the U.S. Government is seen as a risk-free borrower, investors use the 10-year Treasury Note as a benchmark for the long-term bond market.
* Gold represents the 3:00 p.m. (London time) gold price as reported by the London Bullion Market Association and is expressed in U.S. Dollars per fine troy ounce. The source for gold data is Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis (FRED), https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/GOLDPMGBD228NLBM.
* The Bloomberg Commodity Index is designed to be a highly liquid and diversified benchmark for the commodity futures market. The Index is composed of futures contracts on 19 physical commodities and was launched on July 14, 1998.
* The DJ Equity All REIT Total Return Index measures the total return performance of the equity subcategory of the Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) industry as calculated by Dow Jones.
* The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA), commonly known as “The Dow,” is an index representing 30 stock of companies maintained and reviewed by the editors of The Wall Street Journal.
* The NASDAQ Composite is an unmanaged index of securities traded on the NASDAQ system.
* International investing involves special risks such as currency fluctuation and political instability and may not be suitable for all investors. These risks are often heightened for investments in emerging markets.
* Yahoo! Finance is the source for any reference to the performance of an index between two specific periods.
* The risk of loss in trading commodities and futures can be substantial. You should therefore carefully consider whether such trading is suitable for you in light of your financial condition. The high degree of leverage is often obtainable in commodity trading and can work against you as well as for you. The use of leverage can lead to large losses as well as gains.
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* Consult your financial professional before making any investment decision.
https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2023-11-09/yield-uncertainty-will-persist-even-if-the-fed-is-done-raising-rates (or go to https://resources.carsongroup.com/hubfs/WMC-Source/2023/11-13-23_Bloomberg_Yield%20Uncertainty%20Will%20Persist_5.pdf)