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Data: FactSet; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

It’s not just stock prices and FICO scores that are hitting record highs. In the first quarter of this year, 403 of the stocks in the S&P 500 delivered earnings higher than Wall Street analysts had forecast — a record that was promptly broken in the second quarter, when 407 stocks achieved that feat.

The big picture: Earnings beats are always more the rule than the exception, even during bear markets. But these levels are unprecedented.

The big question: How are so many companies managing to beat expectations, quarter in and quarter out?

  • The strong economy, combined with tax-cut revenues, certainly helps.
  • Companies announce earnings guidance figures they know they can beat, in a sign that they're feeling very little pressure from Wall Street that their profits aren't high enough.

The bottom line: Wall Street is enjoying a rare period of being very happy with the companies it invests in and the amount of money they're making.

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Pence chief of staff Marc Short tests positive for coronavirus

Marc Short with Katie Miller, Vice President Pence's communications director, in March. Photo: Doug Mills/The New York Times via Reuters

Marc Short, Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff, tested positive for the coronavirus Saturday and is quarantining, according to a White House statement.

Why it matters: Short is Pence's closest aide, and was one of the most powerful forces on the White House coronavirus task force.

Updated 41 mins ago - Politics & Policy

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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

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Opposition leader Leopoldo López flees Venezuela

Venezuelan opposition politician Leopoldo López outside the Spanish embassy in Caracas, in 2019. Photo: Juan Barreto/AFP via Getty Images

Leopoldo López, a former political prisoner and prominent Venezuelan opposition leader, has left the country, his Popular Will party confirmed in a statement Saturday.

Why it matters: He's been an influential force in the push to oust President Nicolás Maduro's regime and a mentor to opposition leader Juan Guaidó. He'd been in the Spanish ambassador's Caracas residence since escaping house arrest in April 2019 following a failed military uprising.