Scott MartindaleEarnings season is in full swing, and on balance, investors are liking what they hear. Tech leaders Google (GOOG) and IBM (IBM) got bought in truckloads after their fine earnings reports, although Apple (AAPL) disappointed after the close on Wednesday.

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Earnings reports on Wednesday from big banks like Goldman Sachs (Scott MartindaleGS) and JPMorgan Chase (JPM) were encouraging. And Apple (AAPL) got a much-needed boost from the top tech analysts. However, Goldman’s analysts tried to throw a wet blanket on the markets earlier this week with their expectation that earnings reports overall this year would be “uninspiring” and that equity returns this year likely will be only in the single digits.

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Scott MartindaleAnother earnings season is underway. I haven’t noticed much in the way of earnings pre-announcements (i.e., warnings), which is a positive sign.

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Congress got its act together just enough to stave off the fiscal cliff. Unfortunately, they merely added a long “pirate plank” to the edge of the cliff, as spending was not addressed. So the country has stepped off the cliff and now we are “walking the plank,” albeit without the blindfold since we know when the debt ceiling and sequestration are scheduled to kick in.

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Scott MartindaleUntil today, the stock market had lost its year-end traction, and it is exclusively due to the unresolved Federal budget and the looming Fiscal Cliff and debt ceiling. Optimism among investors that something will certainly get done had fallen victim to political theater and the reality that our elected officials view compromise as a sure path to losing their next election.

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Scott MartindaleSanta Claus is trying his hardest to keep spirits bright among stock investors. But the President and the House are not playing nice and just might find a lump of coal in their stockings. Neither appears willing to give an inch, so some observers predict that we will indeed go over the fiscal cliff, at least until mid-January.

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Scott MartindaleI am not going to mention the nickname for the dominant issue of the day, since you are probably on the verge of screaming if you here it again (hint: initials are F.C.). But, unfortunately, we all remain hostage to the relentless political posturing of our elected officials during these critical budget negotiations. Not that we haven’t asked for it.

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Scott MartindaleThe news has been dominated by the predictable on-and-off speculation about progress with Europe’s intractable debt crisis and the Fiscal Cliff here at home. With all the economic uncertainty, Wall Street analysts are struggling with their forward estimates for companies. Stocks have fluctuated accordingly, testing support and seeking catalysts.

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An inordinately contentious and dispiriting election season left virtually everyone who was paying attention with a bitter taste in their mouth about the say-whatever-it-takes politicians that so desperately seek the honor of representing us. But never fear, at least we can still look to the top brass in our military for leaders with the utmost in discipline and integrity, right?

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Scott MartindaleU.S. stocks rallied on Election Day Tuesday, ostensibly in anticipation of a “surprise” Romney win. But on Wednesday, after huge dollars were spent on rancorous campaigns and attack ads that only further deepened the divide in our country, we woke up to find ourselves with the same President and divided Congress that previously failed to address the looming Fiscal Cliff.

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