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The 8-ball says "All signs point to blah" in 2Q

The shine on the second quarter has a name — fool's gold

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With most analysts expecting a tepid second quarter for banks and with the latest report showing consumer spending coming in weak, the fool’s gold rush of optimism from Thursday’s big headline/cracked foundation jobs report has faded, and it doesn't look good for the second quarter.

Earnings reports kick off this Friday with Wells Fargo (WFC) leading off, and it’s only one of two major banks expected to see positive earnings-per-share growth. Wells and Morgan Stanley (MS) should come in positive –  Citi (C), Bank of America (BAC), JPMorgan Chase (JPM), and Goldman Sachs (GS)  are expected to be negative. It won't be pretty.

On Monday, we found out that Americans' average daily spending dropped in June from May levels. The consumer-spending figure for June also represents the first decline in the monthly average since January of this year.

Job creation remained flat, with a net loss of full-time jobs only being covered by a surplus of part-time jobs. We had a decline of 523,000 in full-time employment paired with an increase of 799,000 part-time jobs in June.

More troubling in the jobs report, worker wages remained soft, rising only 2% over the past year, and total hours worked are 2.1% ahead of a year ago, suggesting that overall income and nominal GDP are growing at a relatively slow 4% rate.

And the labor-force participation rate was unchanged at 62.8%, a 30-year low. While 2.15 million people gained employment in June, 2.35 million dropped out of the labor force.

This is the “great jobs report” that Thursday’s ebullient headlines were celebrating.

Economic confidence dipped slightly from May, and the only positive note is that it’s not worse than where it was in the depth of the recession.

So coming off -2.9% growth in the first quarter, we see consumer spending giving us two straight months of real declines.

Looking deeper at the trail signs, the trade imbalance for April and May came in worse than March’s imbalance, and March was already disturbingly high.

With shipments of durable goods barely budging in April and May, declining factory orders, and May’s flat construction spending – I’m going to lay a marker.

It may not be the initial or revised figure, but the second quarter’s finalized growth – if there is any, and another contraction is quite possible – will be under 1.5%. Which, if you’re keeping track at home – will make the revised 3% year's growth the Pollyannas are expecting pretty much impossible.

And no, it was not the blankety-blank weather. That’s not how weather and seasonal adjustments work.

As noted by a colleague, this past winter was “the 34th coldest such period for the contiguous 48 states as a whole since modern records began in 1895.” 

So let’s put that to rest and focus on the real problems.

If I’m shouting at the clouds, fine, I’ll stop. But just so you know, JPMorgan Chase lowered its full-year growth projection to 1.4%.

The bank’s estimate for the final three quarters was a shade under 3%.

They’re betting on the come. I have my doubts.

Wells Fargo (WFC

Morgan Stanley (MS

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