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Expand chart
Data: FactSet; Chart: Axios Visuals

After months of downward revisions, analysts now expect the S&P 500 to post a year-over-year earnings decline in the first quarter, according to FactSet.

State of play: As recently as Sept. 30, analysts predicted the earnings growth rate for the current quarter would hit 6.7%. If their estimates prove to be true, it would be the first year-over-year contraction of S&P earnings since the second quarter of 2016.

Yes, but: Companies are up against a high bar, thanks to a boost from corporate tax cuts last year.

  • Still, CEO warnings about a global economic slowdown, the trade war and margin pressures has led analysts to curb expectations.
  • Earnings growth in the fourth quarter is on track to hit 12%, with about 46% of S&P 500 companies having released quarterly results so far.

The bad news: As more companies release soft guidance, expectations for first quarter earnings — and the rest of the year — may only get bleaker.

  • "We wouldn't be surprised if every quarter this year ends up in negative territory,” analysts at Morgan Stanley wrote in a recent note.

Go deeper

"Vaccine tourism" stretches states' supplies

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Americans who are highly motivated to get vaccinated are traveling across state lines after hearing about larger vaccine supplies or loopholes in sign-up systems.

Why it matters: "Vaccine tourism" raises ethical and legal questions, and could worsen the racial socioeconomic and racial inequalities of the pandemic.

29 mins ago - Economy & Business

Ships search for green fuels to keep oceans blue

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The world's maritime industry — from ferries to freighters — is trying to navigate a once-in-a-century transition away from fossil fuels to new, cleaner means of propulsion.

Why it matters: International shipping is key to the world's economy, responsible for 90% of global trade. But the vessels burn about 4 million barrels of oil a day, accounting for almost 3 percent of the world's carbon emissions, and regulators are demanding they clean up their act.

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Hours-long reading of 628-page COVID relief bill delays Senate debate

Sen. Ron Johnson. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Senate on Thursday voted 51-50 — with Vice President Kamala Harris breaking the tie — to proceed to debate on President Biden's $1.9 trillion coronavirus rescue package, likely setting up a final vote this weekend.

The state of play: Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) forced Senate clerks to read the entire 628-page bill on the floor, which took nearly 11 hours and lasted until 2:04 a.m. on Friday. The Senate is set to return at 9 a.m. to debate the bill before considering amendments, which could drag into the weekend.