Wall St The Week Ahead: Biotech stocks slide likely to hit US earnings

THE wrenching selloff in US high-growth technology and biotech shares could leave investors braced for more than a minor pullback when earnings pick up speed this week.

First-quarter earnings estimates have fallen sharply as many companies have blamed the brutal winter for weak outlooks.

With high-valuation stocks under pressure, earnings could be subjected to even more investor scrutiny than usual.

Profit growth for Standard & Poor’s 500 companies now is projected at just 0.9 per cent growth in the first quarter from a year ago, down from a 1 January forecast for 6.5 per cent growth, Thomson Reuters data showed.

This week, 54 S&P 500 companies are scheduled to report first-quarter earnings, compared with 29 reporting last week.

Earnings are expected from such high-profile names as General Electric, Johnson & Johnson, Goldman Sachs, Google and IBM.

The economic calendar will include retail sales today, the Consumer Price Index tomorrow, US housing starts and industrial output on Wednesday and the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia’s business activity index on Thursday. The latest weekly initial jobless claims will also come out on Thursday.

Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen will speak on Wednesday to the Economic Club of New York.

The US stock market will be closed for Good Friday. Volume is likely to be lighter than usual with some away to observe Passover, which will begin at sundown today.