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Second Quarter Results To Be Noisy | Chris Harkins

Disappointing labor results pulled stocks lower as we head into the earnings season. Some investors worry about a “noisy” quarter, as the second half of April brings us the latest round of quarterly earnings results. Analysts brace for news of the absence of top-line results, placing too much pressure on earnings. Oil prices have rallied more than $30 a barrel over the past six months and that has placed additional pressure on margins. Despite higher prices at the pump, U.S. broad market averages have rallied this year, with a shift into higher risk stocks such as Small and Mid-cap stocks along with a soaring NASDAQ. Despite rallying 8% to 10%, utility and blue-chip stocks under-performed the higher-risk equities. Events in Europe and the Middle East continue to steal some the news, as we move from Greece, investors look to Spain, Italy and Portugal, hoping for a much smaller negative story to unfold. So, after a more than 20% rally for stocks, we are about to find out if this sell-off is a well-deserved pause or the beginning of a correction, keying in on earnings and labor results.

On a more local angle, Arkansas-based stocks rallied as 12 of the 16 Arkansas Index stocks moved higher through March. Leaders include Harrison-based First Federal Bancshares of Arkansas, up 50%, Little Rock-retailer Dillards surged another 40% and transportation stocks J.B. Hunt and P.A.M Transport each climbed more than 20%.

Another subject of interest is the announcement out of the Labor Department requiring new reporting on retirement plans for employer and employee alike. Initially set for a May deadline, August, 2012 brings us greater transparency on retirement plan fees and expenses. Employers and their retirement plan providers will begin offering more detailed information regarding the actual costs each participant pays for their participation in their plan.

Click here to watch a video of Chris discussing this topic with Roby Brock of Talk Business.

Chris Harkins
Senior Vice President & Managing Director
Delta Trust Investments, Inc.

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