With the U.S. stock market in an extended funk, earnings offer at least a temporary escape route.
"The earnings season represents the first potential stop in this downward trend," said Robert Pavlik, chief market strategist at Boston Private Wealth.
Recent sessions are "indicative of the market going forward this year, it's a volatile, extremely nervous market. What's going to turn it around? Earnings have the potential, but that's somewhat questionable at this point," Pavlik said.
Wall Street is now looking for S&P 500 earnings to grow about 1 percent in the fourth quarter, on a year-over-year basis.
Take energy out of the equation, and that expected growth comes to about 4 percent.