Friday’s GDP Sets Up For A Positive Surprise

By Bryan Rich

April 23, 6:00 pm EST

We’re getting into the heart of Q1 earnings now, with about a quarter of the companies in the S&P 500 now in, and many more reporting this week.  And we’ll get the first look at Q1 GDP this Friday.

Remember, as we went through the price correction in stocks, we’ve been waiting for the data to “prove it” to the market that fiscal stimulus and structural reform are indeed fueling a return to trend growth.

On that note, the performance of companies in Q1 have NOT disappointed.  As of Friday, 80% of the S&P 500 companies that have reported have beat earnings estimates.  And 72% have beat revenue estimates.

Now we have the build up to the big Q1 GDP number at the end of this week.  We were already heading into the first quarter, with the economy growing at better than 3% for the second half of 2017.  And then the fire was fed with the tax bill.

So what are the expectations going into the GDP report?

The Atlanta Fed attempts to mimic the model used by the BEA on their GDP forecast.  They are looking for 2% for Q1 growth. And as you can see in their chart above, the forecasted number has been on a dramatic slide as we’ve seen more and more economic data through the period.  More importantly, Reuters has the consensus view of economists at 2%.

The New York Fed’s model is predicting 2.9% growth (closer to that important trend growth level).

As with earnings, a low bar to hop over tends to be very good for stocks.  And at a 2% consensus, we’re setting up for a positive surprise on GDP.

As we’ve discussed, despite the move higher in global rates over the past week, and the coming break of the 3% barrier in the 10-year yield, it will be hard to dispute the signal of economic strength and robustness from the combination of a huge earnings season and a positive surprise in GDP.  If we get it, that should kick the stock market recovery into another gear.

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