The end of the first quarter is approaching, and equity investors are in for a rude awakening as they prepare for earnings season, said Dan Nathan, principal at RiskReversal Advisors. “It seems like we entered this year, and the stock market got off to this great start, because I think people had downshifted their recession expectations to a soft or no landing. And I think what’s happened with this kind of banking crisis here is it just kind of, you know, accelerated the potential for a weaker economy,” Nathan said Monday on CNBC’s ” Fast Money .” “I actually think that the equity market has probably not gotten the memo yet,” he added. “I think it’s about to do that when we get into Q1 earnings season in a few weeks.” Those comments come as the S & P 500 closed nearly 0.2% higher on Monday, posting its third straight positive session as investors tried to move past the regional banking crisis that broke out this month. In the first quarter of 2023, the S & P 500 is up more than 3%. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is off by over 2% this quarter, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite is trading more than 12% higher. .SPX YTD mountain S & P 500 YTD However, the “Fast Money” traders said investors are failing to price in tightening credit conditions, as well as a weaker macro environment, ahead of first quarter earnings — particularly in the tech sector. Nathan said consensus estimates for tech stocks are elevated, even as those companies contend with a higher interest rate and inflationary environment. “All of those things are going to be headwinds to earnings. So at some point, it’s my view that in the next few months or so, we’re gonna have some major tech companies likely guide down,” Nathan said. “They’ve been cutting jobs , they’ve been cutting costs … sooner or later they’re going to actually have to say we’re taking the estimates down.” Meanwhile, panelist Grasso Global CEO Steve Grasso agreed several large-cap tech companies have been “rewarded” recently after announcing layoffs, as investors approved of the cost-cutting measures. Similarly, investors piled into mega-cap tech stocks after the recent banking crisis, citing their “stability,” Grasso said. However, he wondered whether that can continue after earnings. “They have the balance sheets, they have the stability. So does that last, or is it a reversion off of that move?” Grasso said. Trader Karen Finerman was less negative on the sector, saying supply chain issues and a pullback in the stronger dollar have eased this year, weighing less on mega-cap tech stocks. “We talked about the market as a monolith, but it’s not,” said Finerman, chief executive officer at Metropolitan Capital Advisors. “There’s a lot of different, different flavors.”
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