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Here’s Why Goldman Sachs Cut its S&P 500 Earnings Outlook

Don’t expect high returns from the S&P 500 index for the next two years.

A team of analysts led by David Kostin, who oversees global investment research at Goldman Sachs, lowered earnings per shares estimates for the S&P 500 through 2018. Not just 2018, but also 2016 and 2017.

While Wall Street projected a 12.4% earnings growth in 2017, according to a FactSet report released Friday, Goldman expects lower figures. Specifically, the team has projected earnings per share will rise just 5% to $105 in 2016 (down from $110); just 10% to $114 in 2017 (from $123); and only 5% to $122 (from $130) in 2018. This is largely due to weaknesses in the economy.


“The U.S. economy will remain stuck in a slow growth secular growth regime,” the analysts wrote. “S&P 500 margins will increase next year, but remain well below the peak.”

Gross domestic production is also expected to hover at a weak, 2% pace through 2019, according to Goldman analysts. Meanwhile, profit margins are likely to be hit by headwinds such as pricing power and labor costs.

The financials, telecom, and information technology sectors, the main reasons why Goldman downgraded their earnings estimates, will likely reveal low earnings thanks in part to low interest rates.

Low, long-term interest rates have pressed down on financial industry profits, while those same rates have increased pension liabilities for the telecom sector. Meanwhile, both financials and information technology, the two largest S&P 500 sectors by EPS contribution, have revealed weak earnings growth so far in 2016.

“We maintain our S&P 500 price targets of 2100 for year-end 2016, 2200 at the end of 2017, and 2300 at the end of 2018, implying price changes from the current market level of -3%, +2%, and +6%, respectively,” the team wrote.

The S&P 500 closed .47% higher on Monday amid earnings season. The index hit several all-time highs following the U.K.’s vote to leave the European Union, including a particularly good month in August. But the index has fallen roughly 1.9% since then.