New York Report: US data clog to clear as report season begins

A BACKLOG of US data will begin to clear this week with payrolls figures landing just as more than one-quarter of S&P 500 companies report earnings. But equities, at record highs, have already surpassed expectations for the year and could begin to drift sideways.

The S&P 500 closed Friday at 1,744.50, an all-time high, making it safe to say the bulls are in control on Wall Street.

Expectations for earnings growth in the year’s last quarter are now at a lofty 10.3 per cent, although they are expected to fall.

September payrolls numbers, expected two weeks ago, will be released tomorrow to start a flow of economic data delayed because of the 16-day government shutdown that ended on Thursday.

The September data won’t be corrupted because of the delay, but October data may be. The Federal Reserve said that its decision on reducing its $85bn a month stimulus is data dependent, and the trend may not be reliable next month.

About 28 per cent of S&P 500 components will report earnings this week. The list includes Dow components Caterpillar, McDonald's, Boeing, Microsoft, UPS, AT&T and DuPont, alongside crowd favourites Netflix and Amazon.com.

Overall earnings growth on the S&P 500 is expected to be 2.1 per cent for the third quarter, down from an estimate of 4.5 per cent at the beginning of October and 8.5 per cent in July. In terms of revenue, 53 per cent of the nearly 100 companies that have reported, beat expectations and 46.9 per cent missed.