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Earnings season kicks off — What to know in markets Friday

Heidi Chung

It’s time to find out how U.S. corporations performed during the first quarter of 2019. As a few big banks kick things off, consensus outlook for first-quarter earnings season is rather bleak.

John Lynch, LPL Financial’s chief investment strategist, predicted that a flat first-quarter earnings season would be the best case scenario. “First quarter earnings season kicks off this week and the bar seems low. Consensus estimates for first quarter earnings season are calling for a slight year-over-year decline in S&P 500 Index earnings amid the economic soft patch at the start of the year,” Lynch wrote in a note to clients on Tuesday. “We expect roughly flat earnings for the quarter, but the streak of seven straight quarters of earnings growth could come to an end.”

First-quarter earnings estimates (LPL Financial/FactSet)

But just how low is the bar for first-quarter earnings? “The 7% cut to first quarter estimates since the start of the year, the biggest cut since the first quarter of 2016, may have put the bar too low,” Lynch said.

Before the opening bell Friday, three big banks will release their earnings reports: JPMorgan Chase (JPM), Wells Fargo (WFC) and PNC Financial (PNC). JPMorgan is expected to report earnings of $2.36 on $28.39 billion of revenue, while analysts expect PNC to report earnings of $2.61 per share on $4.27 billion of revenue. Wells Fargo is estimated to have earned $1.10 per share on $20.97 in revenue.

Heidi Chung is a reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter: @heidi_chung.

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