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Week in Review: Earnings Drive Markets in Hit-or-Miss Week

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The weekend couldn't come soon enough after days of hit-or-miss reports from titans of industry like General Electric (GE - Get Report) , General Motors (GM - Get Report) and Goldman Sachs (GS) .

The gyrations ultimately ended with the S&P 500 up 0.5% for the week, the Dow Jones Industrial Average gaining 0.5%, and the Nasdaq falling 0.7%.

Expectations were low heading into first-quarter earnings season with a stronger U.S. dollar, weaker global demand and a prolonged period of lower commodity prices keeping investors bearish. S&P 500 companies are expected to report a 7.1% slide in average earnings for the first quarter, the fourth straight decline and the worst losing streak since the Great Recession.

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Lowered estimates have helped propel an earnings beat rate to its best in seven years, however. So far, 78.3% of companies have topped projections, which is the highest since the third quarter of 2009, according to Birinyi Associates.

In positive earnings developments this week, McDonald's (MCD - Get Report) reported same-store sales in the U.S. jumped 5.4%, 100 basis points above estimates, thanks to the success of all-day breakfast sales. Fellow fast-food chain owner Yum! Brands (YUM - Get Report) topped earnings estimates as growth in KFC China recovered from a challenging 2015.

PepsiCo (PEP - Get Report) improved quarterly profit driven by improved gross margins. The snack and beverage company said its focus on driving greater operational efficiencies helped it to expand profits. Organic revenue rose 3.5%.

Morgan Stanley (MS) bested quarterly profit...


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