The outstanding fourth-quarter earnings season we had in 2020 is a tough act to follow, but 2021’s first quarter has the makings of another potentially great earnings season. The reopening of the economy continues to move forward, and corporate America has done an excellent job managing through the pandemic. In fact, it won’t take much of an upside surprise for year-over-year S&P 500 Index earnings growth to reach 30% this quarter. The 2021 earnings boom is here.
There is a growing debate over whether an expanding economy, in conjunction with historic fiscal and monetary stimulus, may cause inflation to overheat. Adding to the intense debate, the Federal Reserve (Fed) has shifted its policy framework, potentially allowing inflation to run a little hotter than it has in the past. Despite vocal calls for runaway inflation, we believe that any uptick in inflation will ultimately prove transitory due to slack in the labor market and other structural forces.
The U.S. economy’s recovery from the pandemic continues to surpass our expectations, aided by the accelerating vaccine distribution, massive stimulus, and America’s desire to resume some semblance of normal daily life. Despite having raised our 2021 economic and earnings growth forecasts on February 8, we are doing so again. We are also raising—and narrowing—our 10-year Treasury yield forecast range. Our S&P 500 Index target remains unchanged.
The bear market ended one year ago this week, finishing one of the fastest and most vicious bear markets of all-time—one that led to a drawdown of 34%. Things have come full circle now, as stocks have staged a furious rally, with new highs happening across the globe as the economy recovers at a record pace. We take a look back at what happened last March, while also examining how previous bull markets did during the second year of their existence.
- March Madness: Stock Market Edition
- Raising Rates and Stock Market Performance
- Here Comes the Earnings Boom
- The Search for Income
- Raising GDP and Stock Market Forecasts
- Markets Shrug Off Debt Levels
- Small Caps Still Solid
- Market Policy Projections for 2021
- 10 Economic Lessons from 2020
- A New Economic Start in 2021