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The entrance to the Monsanto Company headquarters in a St. Louis file photo is shown June 28, 2005.
The entrance to the Monsanto Company headquarters in a St. Louis file photo is shown June 28, 2005.
(James A. Finley/AP)

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Don’t be fooled by early earnings, there’s weakness ahead

If Monsanto Co. and Alcoa Inc. were representative of the U.S. economy as a whole, their solid fourth quarter earnings would be reason to start lighting celebratory cigars. But there remain ample reasons to be cautious about corporate America’s fourth-quarter performance, and the outlook for 2013.

Market data firm FactSet reports that analysts on average are looking for just 2.4 per cent earnings and 2.2 per cent revenue growth for S&P index companies as a whole in the fourth quarter, followed by an anemic increase of 2.4 per cent and 0.9 per cent, respectively, in the first quarter.