With more than half of the companies on the S&P 500 having reported earnings, the consensus estimate for fourth-quarter earnings is down just 0.1% from three weeks ago. That's well above the 1.3% average decline for the past five years, excluding 2018, which was boosted significantly by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

By the numbers: So far, 22% of S&P companies have revised first-quarter profit targets higher, the highest percentage since Q2 2018 and third-highest since 2012, Bloomberg data show.

  • And, Bloomberg notes, "sell-side EPS estimate revisions are tracking at 47%, an improvement from readings in the 30%-range this time last year."

Yes, but: The coronavirus outbreak may lower 2020 earnings, Lori Calvasina, head of U.S. equity strategy at RBC Capital Markets, told Bloomberg. She expects downside effects from the virus could pull growth figures down by about 4%.

Go deeper: The 5 biggest U.S. stocks account for almost 18% of the S&P 500's market value

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20 Republican former U.S. attorneys endorse Biden, call Trump "a threat to the rule of law"

Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

Twenty Republican former U.S. Attorneys on Tuesday endorsed Joe Biden while saying that "President Trump's leadership is a threat to rule of law" in the U.S., the Washington Post reports.

What they're saying: In the letter, the former prosecutors criticize Trump's use of the Department of Justice, saying the president expects the DOJ to "to serve his personal and political interests."

  • "He has politicized the Justice Department, dictating its priorities along political lines and breaking down the barrier that prior administrations had maintained between political and prosecutorial decision-making," the letter says.
Updated 45 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Politics: Axios-Ipsos poll: Federal response has only gotten worse — The swing states where the pandemic is raging.
  2. Health: The coronavirus is starting to crush some hospitals — 13 states set single-day case records last week.
  3. Business: Winter coronavirus threat spurs new surge of startup activity.
  4. Media: Pandemic causes cable and satellite TV providers to lose the most subscribers ever.
  5. States: Nearly two dozen Minnesota COVID cases traced to 3 Trump campaign events.
  6. World: Unrest in Italy as restrictions grow across Europe.

Ted Cruz defends GOP's expected return to prioritizing national debt

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) told "Axios on HBO" on Monday that he wishes reining in the national debt was a higher priority for President Trump.

Why it matters: Trump pledged during the 2016 campaign to reduce the national debt and eliminate it entirely within eight years, though he also deemed himself "the king of debt" and said there were some priorities that required spending. In the fiscal year that ended in September, the deficit reached a record $3.1 trillion.