Low expectations for Q1 earnings season

(MoneyWatch) Just like clockwork, it's earnings season again. Now comes the moment when investors determine whether stocks have been rising primarily due to the central bank-spiked punchbowl (Japan upped its contribution last week) or whether companies are making money the old fashioned way: By selling the stuff they make or the services they provide.

Estimates for Q1 quarterly earnings of the companies that comprise the S&P 500 range from -0.7 to +1.5 percent, which is to say that earnings are unlikely to be stellar, this go-around. According to FactSet, companies have clearly telegraphed that this quarter would be more difficult. More than three-quarters of S&P 500 companies issued negative guidance about the upcoming quarter, above the 5-year average of 61 percent. If the final number is negative, "it will mark the second time in the past three quarters that the index has reported a year-over-year decline in earnings growth."

Despite the slow start, for all of 2013, earnings for the index are expected to hit a record of nearly $112 per share, up from $104 last year. If this quarter is expected to be a stinker, that means analysts are betting on a second-half bounce. That feat could be difficult if U.S. headwinds (payroll tax hike, sequestration, sagging employment) pick up; eurozone anxiety recurs; or Chinese growth stagnates. Then again, maybe the crystal ball gazers are transfixed on global easy money to make up the difference.

Markets: Stocks fell on the week, though improved from the lows seen just after the disappointing jobs report was released on Friday -- by 10 a.m., the Dow was off about 170 points, but closed down just 40 points on the session.

-- DJIA: 14,565 down 0.1 percent on week, up 11.1 percent on year

-- S&P 500: 1,553, down 1 percent on week, up 8.9 percent on year

-- NASDAQ: 3,203, down 2 percent on week, up 6.1 percent on year (small company stocks down 3 percent on week, the worst showing since June 2012)

-- April Crude Oil: $92.70, down 4.7 percent on week

-- June Gold: $1,575.90, down 1.2 percent on week

-- AAA nat'l average price for gallon of regular gas: $3.61

THE WEEK AHEAD:

Mon 4/8:

Alcoa - after close

Tues 4/9:

7:30 NFIB Small Business Optimism Index

10:00 Wholesale inventories

10:00 Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS)

Weds 4/10:

President Obama sends fiscal 2014 budget to Congress

2:00 FOMC Minutes

Thurs 4/11:

Chain Store Sales

8:30 Weekly Claims

8:30 March Import Prices

Fri 4/12:

JPMorgan Chase - before opening

8:30 March PPI

8:30 March Retail Sales

9:55 April Michigan Sentiment

10:00 February Business Inventories

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    Jill Schlesinger, CFP®, is the Emmy-nominated, Business Analyst for CBS News. She covers the economy, markets, investing and anything else with a dollar sign on TV, radio (including her nationally syndicated radio show), the web and her blog, "Jill on Money." Prior to her second career at CBS, Jill spent 14 years as the co-owner and Chief Investment Officer for an independent investment advisory firm. She began her career as a self-employed options trader on the Commodities Exchange of New York, following her graduation from Brown University.

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