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Investors had high expectations ahead of earnings season, with various forecasts calling for a strong quarter of profit growth. Initial results seem to support that narrative. This serves as a sign that U.S. and European corporations are slowly regaining momentum after a prolonged down period stoked by uneven global growth.

Data from financial research firm FactSet show a first-quarter blended earnings gain of 9.2% for U.S. companies listed on the S&P 500, based on 6% of companies that have reported so far. Three-quarters (76%) of S&P 500 companies have reported earnings per share above the median estimate. More than half (59%) have also exceeded the median revenue forecast.[1]

European earnings have also been robust, as the region continues its long recovery. European companies are coming off their strongest quarter of profit growth in two years. Fourth-quarter earnings for Stoxx Europe 600 Index members rose 11% year-over-year, with analysts predicting further outperformance in 2017.[2] Key sectors such as banks and basic resources are expected to usher faster growth in the regional economy.

Strong corporate gains come on the heels of an improving global economy. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has raised its global economic outlook in 2017, forecasting growth of 3.5%.

“Stronger activity and expectations of more robust global demand, coupled with agreed restrictions on oil supply, have helped commodity prices recover from their troughs in early 2016,” the D.C.- based lending institution said in a statement earlier this month. [3]

Investors are hopeful that a strong earnings quarter can offset growing geopolitical concerns over Syria and North Korea. Global markets have been on high alert since U.S. President Donald Trump launched 59 Tomahawk missiles at a Syrian airbase earlier this month in response to a chemical weapons’ attack allegedly carried out by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Recently, China has also urged caution over North Korea, a country President Trump has singled out in recent months.[4]

 

In the United States, earnings season is just ramping up. A bevy of corporate result are expected this week, including Dow Jones blue-chips Boeing, United Technologies and Intel. Dow members Chevron and Exxon Mobil are also scheduled to report.

[1] FactSet (April 13, 2017). Earnings Insight: Key Metrics.

[2] Blaise Robinson (March 3, 2017). “Europe Eanings Outshine U.S. to Signal Long-Awaited Rebound.

[3] Roger Yu (April 18, 2017). “IMF raises global economic outlook in 2017 to 3.5% on investment recovery.” USA Today.

[4] Jessica Meyers (April 24, 2017). “China’s Xi in plea to Trump, urge caution in handling North Korea.” Los Angeles Times.

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