As of April 22, 67% of the companies in the key stock indices that reported their corporate earnings were able to beat earnings estimates, but only 44% of them were able to exceed the revenue expectations of Wall Street analysts. (Source: Reuters Alpha Now, April 22, 2013.)
Looking at all this, you have to ask: why are the key stock indices rising when the underlying reasons for their rise (corporate earnings and growth) are diminishing?
The key stock indices aren't climbing because of fundamental reasons. The harsh reality is that the yields from other investments are too low, so investors are forced to take higher risks to earn a decent rate of return. Just look at the yields on bonds of stronger governments around the world-most are barely beating inflation.
Even the most conservative investors, central banks, are rushing toward the stock market. According to a survey done by Central Banking Publication and Royal Bank of Scotland Group PLC of 60 central banks, 23% of them said they either own equities or plan to purchase them in the future. (Source: Bloomberg Businessweek, April 25, 2013.)
The central bank of Israel bought stocks for the first time last year. Similarly, the central bank of Switzerland and the Czech National bank have increased their stock holdings to at least 10% of their reserves.
The Japanese central bank has done the same. The Bank of Japan, the central bank with the second most reserves, expects to boost its holdings of equity exchange-traded funds (ETFs) to 3.5 trillion yen (about US$35.2 billion) by 2014.
Dear reader, central banks around the world usually hold safer asset classes in their reserves, such as gold, and government bonds, which they can sell in order to intervene in any major currency move (or to implement their monetary policy).