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Get ready for an earnings avalanche Thursday

An earnings avalanche will hit the stock market Thursday, and analysts say that mostly good reports could continue to drive new highs.

Of the roughly 150 companies reporting as of Wednesday morning, 68 percent beat earnings estimates, and earnings growth is coming in at about 5.5 percent, according to Thomson Reuters.

"We're seeing that the forward revision ratio we track has been ticking up—not only are companies beating, but analyst are taking their forward numbers higher," said Andrew Burkly, head of institutional portfolio strategy at Oppenheimer Asset Management. "In general, you could say the better economic momentum we saw in the second quarter is playing out in earnings growth in the second quarter. The big one for me is going to be discretionary and retail."

So far, consumer discretionary sector earnings are up by 4 percent, and technology is leading the gains, with earnings growth of the companies that have reported and are expected to report at 12.8 percent, according to Thomson Reuters.

The S&P 500 ended the day at a record 1,987, up 3 points and its 26th new high of the year. The Dow was off 26, dragged lower by Boeing and Caterpillar, which reports earnings Thursday but issued a negative sales report Wednesday. Boeing lost more than 2 percent after earnings. But Apple was up nearly 2.5 percent after its late-day earnings Tuesday, and Facebook jumped nearly 4 percent to a record high in late trading after its earnings.

Eric Thayer | Stringer | Getty Images

Besides Caterpillar, there are about 50 reports expected for S&P 500 companies Thursday. Some names reporting are: Bristol-Myers Squibb, Eli Lilly, Ford, General Motors, 3M, Alaska Air, PulteGroup, JetBlue, Southwest Air, Alexion Pharma, Boston Scientific, Dr. Pepper Snapple, Starwood, Dunkin' Brands, Airgas, Roche Holdings and Unilever.

After the bell, Amazon.com, Visa, Starbucks, Pandora, Decker's Outdoor, Altera, Chubb and Regal Entertainment report.

While Burkly said he's waiting to see how the consumer affected those retail earnings, he does see an economic positive in the transports, and the Dow transports have been hitting new highs.

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"When you look at rails and truckers in terms of the whole transportation theme, they seem to be saying things are getting better and that's a good forward-looking sign. As valuations start to get elevated, you need the 'E' to come through, and the E (earnings) is coming through," Burkly said.

Burkly said he expects the S&P to push through 2,000 in the near future. "By the time you get to the end of summer, you're going to be at the high end of most strategists' forecasts. They're going to come back and start raising their year-end forecasts again," he said.

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There are still, however, plenty of calls for a correction and traders kept one eye on the bond market, where yields have been holding at low levels. The 10-year was yielding 2.46 in late trading but had been as low as 2.44 percent.

Art Cashin, director of floor operations at UBS, said in a quick email: "Lots of buzz about the 10-year and whether they can take the yield to new lows. Market a bit uncertain about next geopolitical shoe to fall."

Markets have reacted in the past week to events surrounding the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 in Ukraine and Israeli military action against Hamas in Gaza.

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"The first week or two of earnings season were clouded by what was going on in Ukraine. It's still clouded but people are beginning to look through it," Burkly said.

"The data to me seems to be getting better. There's not really inflation. There seems to be a geopolitical premium built into the yields," he said.

Burkly added that he thinks the yield is close to bottoming as bullish sentiment in the bond market is getting elevated, a contrarian indicator.

As for economic reports Thursday, there are weekly jobless claims at 8:30 a.m. ET and new home sales at 10 a.m.

—By CNBC's Patti Domm

  • Patti Domm

    Patti Domm is CNBC Executive Editor, News, responsible for news coverage of the markets and economy.

  • A CNBC reporter since 1990, Bob Pisani covers Wall Street from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

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