This earnings season is ‘about as good as it gets’: J.P. Morgan’s David Kelly

Investors will have to live with the fact that this earnings season is “about as good as it gets,” David Kelly, chief global strategist at J.P. Morgan Asset Management, told CNBC on Friday.

Of the S&P 500 companies that have reported first-quarter results so far, 79.4 percent have topped analyst expectations, according to FactSet.

“This is an extraordinary earnings season,” Kelly said on “Closing Bell.”

“The only negative is this is about as good as it gets. … We’ve had five years of earnings growth telescoped into 2018 here.”

After appearing to largely ignore strong earnings, the market started paying attention this week. On Wednesday, the Dow Jones industrial average snapped its five-day losing streak after an earnings beat by Boeing. On Thursday, the blue-chip index soared 200 points after a number of strong quarterly results.

However, on Friday the Dow closed 11.15 points lower at 24,311.19 and the Nasdaq ended essentially flat. The S&P 500 rose 0.11 percent to 2,669.91.

“For a while it’s hard to see future earnings growth in 2019, 2020 but the amount of cash these companies are earning, I think people ought to be comfortable investing in equities,” Kelly said. “They are having a hard time doing that.”

Private investor Evan Newmark, a CNBC contributor, said earnings don’t really matter to the market right now.

“A lot of the good news is already priced into the stocks,” he told “Closing Bell.”

Then there are issues investors are concerned about, like rising bond yields, he added. On Friday, the 10-year Treasury was at 2.959 after breaking the 3 percent mark on Tuesday. It was the first time the benchmark note went above 3 percent since 2014.

“Rates have gone up for the right reasons. Economic growth has been strong. Wages today were better than they have been. So these are all good reasons,” Newmark said.

“But I think you couple that with what’s going on with the tariff overhang and you don’t really have a compelling reason to buy,” he added.

President Donald Trump‘s tariff talk has caused some concern about a possible trade war. Trump has threatened to slap duties on Chinese imports, and has imposed steel and aluminum tariffs on several nations, including China. The U.S. exemptions for the European Union and other countries expire May 1.

— CNBC’s Fred Imbert contributed to this report.

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