Expand chart
Reproduced from FactSet; Chart: Axios Visuals

S&P 500 companies are poised to see a 2.1% decline in earnings along with net profit margins of 10.7% , FactSet data show, based on reports from the companies that have so far reported their results from the fourth quarter of 2019.

Why it matters: Both numbers suggest overall weakness in 2019, analysts say.

What it means: "If 10.7% is the actual net profit margin for the quarter, it will mark the first time the index has reported four straight quarters of year-over-year declines in net profit margin since Q4 2008 through Q3 2009," FactSet senior earnings analyst John Butters writes.

  • "Eight of the 11 sectors are reporting a year-over-year decline in their net profit margins in Q4 2019, led by the Energy (4.7% vs. 7.4%), Information Technology (21.4% vs. 22.7%), and Consumer Discretionary (5.9% vs. 7.0%) sectors."

Go deeper: The S&P 500 could be overvalued

Go deeper

Commission on Presidential Debates wants "additional structure" for remaining debates

Photos by JIM WATSON and SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo by JIM WATSON,SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images

The Commission on Presidential Debates announced Wednesday that it plans to implement changes to rules for the remaining debates, after Tuesday night's head-to-head between Joe Biden and Donald Trump was practically incoherent for most of the night.

What they are saying: "Last night's debate made clear that additional structure should be added to the format of the remaining debates to ensure a more orderly discussion of the issues," the CPD said in a statement.

Biden condemns Proud Boys: "Cease and desist"

Joe Biden told reporters on Wednesday that his message to all white supremacist groups is to "cease and desist. That’s not who we are. This is not who we are as Americans."

Driving the news: President Trump was asked specifically about the far-right group Proud Boys at the debate Tuesday night, and rather than condemning them, the president said, "Proud Boys: Stand back and standby."

The national security risks hiding in Trump's debts

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The blockbuster New York Times report on President Trump’s taxes reveals that the president is $421 million in debt, with more than $300 million coming due during Trump’s potential second term — and the identities of the president’s creditors remain unknown.

Why it matters: If some, or all, of this debt is held by foreign actors, it raises serious national security implications.