Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP via Getty Images

Investors have cheered largely better-than-expected company earnings in the third quarter, but those beats are masking an ugly truth, UBS investment bank equity strategists wrote in a note to clients Tuesday.

The big picture: "There is NO debate on S&P 500 forward earnings: a contraction appears imminent."

  • "Indeed, earnings expectations are already contracting in the S&P 400 Midcap and S&P 600 Smallcap indices. Meanwhile, forward earnings growth has slowed from a peak year-over-year growth rate of 23% in September of 2018 to less than 1% today."

Between the lines: There were only 68 companies in the S&P 500 with negative forward earnings at the beginning of the year but today 164 companies are predicting lower earnings — almost a third of the companies in the index.

  • "The most troubling part of all this is that it appears unlikely that the earnings picture will improve anytime soon."

Go deeper: The S&P 500 shuffle

Editor's note: This piece was clarified to show the equity strategists were from UBS investment bank (not UBS).

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Republicans and Dems react to Coney Barrett's Supreme Court confirmation

President Trump stands with Judge Amy Coney Barrett after she took the constitutional oath to serve as a Supreme Court justice during a White House ceremony Monday night .Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

President Trump said Judge Amy Coney Barrett's Senate confirmation to the Supreme Court and her subsequent taking of the constitutional oath Monday was a "momentous day," as she she vowed to serve "without any fear or favour."

  • But as Republicans applauded the third conservative justice in four years, many Democrats including Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) warned of consequences to the rush to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg ahead of the Nov. 3 election, with progressives leading calls to expand the court.
Ina Fried, author of Login
23 mins ago - Science

CRISPR pioneer: "Science is on the ballot" in 2020

Photo: "Axios on HBO"

In her three decades in science, Jennifer Doudna said she has seen a gradual erosion of trust in the profession, but the recent Nobel Prize winner told "Axios on HBO" that the institution itself has been under assault from the current administration.

  • "I think science is on the ballot," Doudna said in the interview.

Why it matters: That has manifested itself in everything from how the federal government approaches climate change to the pandemic.

Ted Cruz doesn't think the Hunter Biden attacks are working

Republican Sen. Ted Cruz told "Axios on HBO" he doesn't think the Trump campaign's focus on the Biden family's business dealings are having any sway with voters.

The big picture: After watching the Trump-Biden debate with "Axios on HBO" on Thursday night, Cruz said he thought Trump had done very well. But when asked whether he thought voters were moved by the release of the Hunter Biden emails, Cruz replied, "I don't think it moves a single voter."