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Reproduced from FactSet; Chart: Axios Visuals

Thanks to solid reports from tech giants like Amazon and Microsoft, expected first-quarter earnings are now on pace to decline by less than they were last week — the first week in which expectations improved since Q1 earnings season began.

By the numbers: With 55% of S&P 500 companies having posted first-quarter results, earnings are projected to fall 13.7% year over year, compared to an estimated 16.1% decline last week. Disney, General Motors, Tyson Foods and CVS among the big names expected to report this week, according to FactSet.

  • Revenue growth expectations have been less negative than earnings overall and rose to 0.7% from 0.2% last week, led by positive revenue surprises from tech, health care and energy.

Between the lines: Dispersion — the difference between the highest analyst estimates and the lowest — has never been higher, which makes estimates particularly difficult to interpret, analysts note.

  • “You have a lot of analysts who have just given up, who have not revised their estimates,” Refinitiv’s corporate earnings tracker David Aurelio told CNBC.
  • “Some of them cannot keep up with the bad news.”

Yes, but: Even though it's on pace to be the worst earnings quarter since Q2 2009, the first quarter may turn out to be the best earnings look this year.

  • “Because the COVID-19 pandemic wasn’t taken seriously until early March, less than a third of the quarter was impacted by various lockdown orders across the globe,” Stephen Hoedt, managing director of equity and fixed income research at Key Private Bank, wrote in a note to clients late last month.
  • Analysts predict a year-over-year decline in earnings in the second quarter (-36.7%), third quarter (-20.1%), and fourth quarter (-9.4%) of 2020, FactSet notes.

Go deeper

Aug 11, 2020 - Technology

Facebook steps up hate speech crackdown, removing 22.5 million posts in Q2

Mark Zuckerberg. Photo: Tobias Hase/picture alliance via Getty Images

Facebook took down 22.5 million posts for hate speech during the second quarter of this year, more than ten times the number it removed in the same quarter last year and more than twice the number removed in the first quarter of 2020.

Why it matters: The company is facing enormous pressure from the advertising and civil rights communities to address hate speech on its platforms. Last month, civil rights groups initiated a Facebook ad boycott that was joined by over 1,000 advertisers.

Updated 15 mins ago - Politics & Policy

First look: Harris wants more union membership in fed workforce

Vice President Kamala Harris speaks at a virtual town hall with Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) on Oct. 14. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Vice President Kamala Harris and Labor Secretary Marty Walsh will today announce new guidelines to encourage federal workers to join unions, according to a White House official.

Why it matters: The Biden administration wants to bolster the collective bargaining power of workers across the country – and they are starting at home, with changes in the federal workforce.

26 mins ago - Health

The global coronavirus vaccine gap

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

The world still needs more coronavirus vaccines, particularly low-income countries. Pressure is increasing on the Biden administration to close the gap — and the Biden administration, in turn, is pushing Moderna to fill it.

Why it matters: Getting global vaccination rates as high as possible isn't just a humanitarian effort; it also reduces the risk of vaccine-resistant variants emerging.

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