Dow Rises 300 Points—But Big Losses Will Dash Earnings Season Cheer, Morgan Stanley Warns

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The stock market got off to a strong start to a crucial week Monday, though one notable pessimistic expert warns the final earnings season of 2023 will precede a period of pain for investors.

Key Facts

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 313 points, or 0.9%, while the S&P 500 and tech-heavy Nasdaq gained 1.1% and 1.2%, respectively.

The rally sent the Dow to its highest level of October, marking the Dow’s best daily performance since September 14.

Buoying the gains were a strong start to the string of third-quarter earnings reports beginning last week, led Monday by a top and bottom line beat by Charles Schwab (shares up 5% Monday) and building on similar Friday beats from fellow big banks Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo.

Overall, the earnings season’s first week was a “strong start” as reporting companies topped consensus profit estimates by an average of 9% and beat earnings and sales expectations above the historical rate, according to Monday research from Bank of America’s Savita Subramanian and Ohsung Kwon.

Morgan Stanley’s top U.S. equity strategist, Michael Wilson, doesn’t buy into the earnings bullishness, writing to clients Monday a broad decline of companies’ upwardly adjusting earnings is a major cause of concern leading up to the meat of earnings season, predicting guidance accompanying these reports “will be key to see if the ‘hockey stick’ recovery” into next year is still on track.

Wilson, who has long warned about the current market’s health, maintained his 3,900 year-end price target for the S&P, implying 11% downside.

What To Watch For

This week’s most notable earnings reports include Goldman Sachs and Bank of America on Tuesday and Netflix and Tesla on Wednesday. Next week will be the busiest week this cycle, with 41% of the S&P by market capitalization reporting earnings, according to Morgan Stanley; Microsoft, Alphabet, Amazon and Meta are among those reporting.

Tangent

Monday’s top stock gainers included Lululemon, whose shares skyrocketed 10% after joining the stock joined the S&P 500, Pfizer, which curiously turned a 3% premarket stock loss to a 4% rise after it revised its full-year sales forecast downward by 13% on Friday, and Snap, whose shares jumped 12% after the Verge reported internal user projections were higher than expected.

Key Background

Corporate earnings shrank by 5% last quarter compared to the same period in 2022, the worst quarter since 2020 and the third-straight quarter of declining earnings, according to FactSet. Despite this earnings slump, stocks have rallied considerably, with the S&P up 14% year-to-date, thanks in large part to investor support for expanding valuations due to growth-focused developments like artificial intelligence and significant corporate cost cutting.

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