What the bulls are praying for this week

As massive companies like Microsoft, McDonald's, Visa and Caterpillar unveil their second-quarter earnings results this week, investors will be looking for further signs that the economy sped up in the second quarter, and is poised to accelerate into the end of the year.

"The earnings picture looks pretty good," said Brian Stutland of the Stutland Volatility Group. "As long as earning keep coming out good, and it's a controlled rally, I think you can remain positive on the market."

For Jonathan Golub, chief U.S. market strategist at RBC Capital Markets, second quarter earnings should confirm that the economy is growing reasonably well.

"While some have suggested that 2Q will see a bounce-back from weather-related issues earlier in the year, our work indicates that sustainable trends are driving improvement," Golub wrote in a recent note. "Furthermore, in the coming quarters, EPS (earnings per share) is projected to strengthen from current levels on an improving economy and margin upside."

Earnings in focus as Fed shifts to rear view

Traders work the floor of the New York Stock Exchange in New York.
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Traders work the floor of the New York Stock Exchange in New York.

Of course, investors have a tendency to look beyond the current earnings and see what they can glean about the future. This may be especially true this year, argues Nicholas Colas, the chief market strategist at ConvergEx Group.

"At this point, the market is willing to give companies a pass on revenue growth, but we'll want to hear some optimism when it comes to the back half of the year," he told CNBC.com.

Stocks are continuing to rise, and investors tend to be measuredly optimistic about economic growth, but "we do want to see that anchored back in fundamentals. In the discussion between the macro and the micro, the connection point is revenues."

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And if neither revenue results nor revenue guidance gives the bulls a reason to cheer, then watch out.

"You can take some liberties with a 14 or 15 multiple. I think you have much less tolerance for failure when you're at a 17 multiple on current-year earnings, and that's where we are now," Colas warned.

—By CNBC's Alex Rosenberg.

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