Get ready for a crazy ride. An adrenaline-fueled earnings trip that will take you through the ins and outs of some of the biggest U.S. companies — General Electric, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, to name a few. Yup, it’s what folks are calling the “heart” of the season — the busiest day so far. It could bring fresh (unnecessary) volatility, so better time in that morning shower.
Up to now, it’s been a mixed bag of results. From Citigroup C kicking off the week in style, to Google GOOG and IBM IBM falling short last night. Hey! It’s not so grim. Almost 60% of S&P 500 denizens with reports out have beaten earnings estimates, FactSet tells us.
But as always, the real question’s whether results will be strong enough to give bulls wings — and lift the U.S. economy for good measure. It’s not looking good: Earnings are down almost 4%, so far.
Since the bull market kicked off five years ago, we’ve had about 20 earnings seasons — and Sarhan Capital’s Adam Sarhan says he’s “hard-pressed to find one or even two that people were excited about.” And as he points out, the S&P 500 soared over 180% and hit a new record high during that time.
A bit of a disconnect there? Maybe, but it’s also telling us a lot about the state of the market these days. Sarhan says one of the hallmarks of a bull market is to see stocks rally on both bullish and bearish news. “At this point, the market is digesting last year’s very strong advance, and the S&P 500 is only 3% below its record high. That is very healthy action,” he says.
So we will be running with the Easter bull or the Easter bear into this weekend? We’ll know after today.
Key market gauges: After Yellen sparked a solid rise for stocks on Wednesday – the S&P SPX turned positive for the year — U.S. stock futures are dragging their feet ahead of the open. The Good Friday shutdown means it’s the last trading day of the week, so markets could be extra jittery. In Europe XX:SXXP , most major indexes headed lower, with Ukraine stirring the pot again. Over east in Asia, most benchmarks closed higher.
The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits last week has probably risen slightly, but is forecast to stay close to the almost-seven-year low. The data come out at 8:30 a.m. Eastern Time.
At 10 a.m. Eastern, investors might see an improvement in the Philly Fed’s manufacturing gauge for April — economists polled by MarketWatch expect a rise to 10, from 9 in March. Read: Spotlight on the economy
Earnings: Here’s where it gets intense today. Google GOOG GOOGL is already down 3.4% premarket after a disappointing earnings release from late Wednesday. IBM IBM has shaved off 4.1% premarket after the tech bellwether reported a larger-than-expected decline in first-quarter revenue last night.
But that’s peanuts compared to what’s on the docket before the opening bell today. Ready for it? Here comes the list: DuPont DD , General Electric GE , Goldman Sachs GS , Morgan Stanley MS , PepsiCo PM and UnitedHealth UNH .
And those were just the biggies. Chipotle Mexican Grill CMG , Honeywell HON , Mattel MAT , Philip Morris PM and Union Pacific UNP also release results ahead of the market open.
Oh, and then there’s Advanced Micro Devices AMD after the closing bell. Not called the ”heart” of the results season for nuttin’.
The buzz: In a not-so-warm welcome to the market, Weibo WB , raised less than expected in its New York launch late last night. China’s version of Twitter raised $286 million, a shortfall that highlights the current weakness in U.S. IPOs. The stock was also priced at the lowest end of the projected range of $17 to $19.
What’s more, it was seen as a big test of demand for Chinese Internet stocks, ahead of the hotly anticipated Alibaba offering later this year.
The chart of the day: Bye, bye, growth stocks. You had a great run over the past eight years, but now it’s time to make room for value. As the U.S. economy picks up, and the Fed scales back its liquidity shots, value stocks will ultimately outperform growth stocks, according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch.
And just to recap: Value stocks are “bargains”, as in companies that tend to trade at a low price, relative to its earnings, sales, dividends, etc. (think Western Union WU , Staples SPLS , while growth stocks typically have substantial growth potential for the foreseeable future (think tech firms, alternative energy and biotech). Read: 8 stocks for a value investor
The call of the day: It’s too soon to move back into gold. The sparkling metal may have dropped 28% in 2013, but that doesn’t mean an upswing is in store. A report from the GFMS team at Thomson Reuters predicts gold prices will keep falling this year and next, as the Fed slowly normalizes monetary policy and investors search for higher-yielding assets. Prices are expected to average $1,225 an ounce this year, but could fall as low as $1,100, GFMS’s head of research Rhona O’Connell said in the report. The June contract for gold GCM4 currently trades at $1,297.60.
The downbeat view on the metal comes after the World Gold Council earlier in the week estimated demand from China will rise about 20% over the next few years.
Random reads: Brits face getting creamed in an Easter Egg shortage afflicting the U.K.
And a missing boy existing only on Facebook.