Business


Will earnings data set fate of economy?



New York: A long hoped for improvement in the economy appears to be manifesting itself in second-quarter US earnings, but the next two weeks could be the real test.

Companies such as General Electric and Intel have reported solid results. In addition, GE believes now is a ripe moment to spin off its private label credit card division in the hopes growing consumer demand will make it more attractive.

Intel declared that personal computer sales have stabilised, while it forecast third-quarter revenue above Wall Street's expectations.

Profit growth for the second quarter is now estimated at 6.7 per cent — excluding results from Citigroup, which was hit by a big adjustment from a mortgage settlement — better than where they stood at the end of June.

In addition, 68 per cent of S&P 500 companies so far are beating analysts' profit expectations, above the 63 per cent long-term average, according to Thomson Reuters data. A similarly high percentage of companies are beating revenue forecasts.

Prospective improvement
"Analysts may be underestimating the level of prospective improvement in the second quarter," wrote Carmine Grigoli, chief investment strategist at Mizuho Securities in New York.

The latest profit estimate is up from a July 1 forecast of 6.2 per cent, while revenue growth, now 3.2 per cent, is on track to be the highest since the third quarter.

The next two weeks, however, will see 60 per cent of the S&P 500 release their results. That is key for investors looking for confirmation the anticipated economic rebound from the first quarter is more than just weather related.

Among the companies set to release figures are Apple, McDonald's, Coca-Cola and Caterpillar. So far in July, six of 10 S&P sectors — particularly healthcare, consumer staples and energy — have shown upward revisions from June, according to Citigroup.

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