Last Week's Stock Market Decline Portends Poorly for Earnings Season
Last week's stock market decline was largely the product of geopolitical events ranging from the debt-ceiling impasse and rating agency warnings to new Italian and Greek sovereign debt troubles. But what's really scary is that a weak week for stocks may well carry into the bulk of earnings season, which comes up next week when 40% of the market capitalization of the Standard & Poor's 500 Index reports second-quarter results. The S&P 500 fell 3.3% over the course of the week, weighed down by 5% loss in financials. And beneath the surface, the gains were not that impressive even on the best day of the week, as breadth was just slightly positive on Friday and only 111 stocks across the three major exchanges jumped out to new one-year highs. Economic data was not supportive of any gains during the week, leading Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (NYSE: GS ) to reportedly to lower its forecast for second- and third-quarter gross domestic product (GDP) growth to less than 1.5% and 2.5%, which is dangerously close to stall speed. The only really impressive earnings report came from Google Inc. (Nasdaq: GOOG ) , which said it earned $8.74 per share in the second quarter, more than the $7.85 that Wall Street had anticipated, after special items. The report was pretty clean. The company reported that Google-owned site revenues jumped 39% year-over-year, while partner sites generated sales growth of 20%. Shares jumped 12%, their biggest move in a year. Over in merger-land, the big news of the week came from Aussie materials conglomerate BHP Billiton Ltd. (NYSE ADR: BHP ) , which made a bid for U.S. gas producer Petrohawk Energy Corp. (NYSE: HK ) , while The Clorox Co. (NYSE: CLX ) investors cleaned up with an acquisition bid by activist investor Carl Icahn. These bids are arriving because stocks are cheap and companies and private funds are flush with cheap money. Click here to continue reading...
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