Noted investor David Darst sees signs of economic improvement in the United States. However, while he's constructive on the second half of the year, he said earnings are key to maintaining momentum.
"For the market to lift you have to see profits come in," the independent investment consultant told CNBC's "Closing Bell." He thinks earnings for the quarter will surpass the low bar that's been set.
When it comes to the economy, he expects average hourly earnings to pick up next month, and thinks low oil prices will help the consumer the rest of the year. Additionally, bank stocks are up 9 percent since July 7, said Darst, former chief investment strategist at Morgan Stanley Wealth Management.
"That's indicative of an improving economy, higher interest rates," he said, adding that he would buy Europe, Japan and good, quality U.S. stocks.
Earnings, along with macro-economic news, are what investors are focusing on now that a bailout deal has been reached between Greece and the euro zone, said Kenny Polcari, director at O'Neil Securities and a CNBC market analyst.
So far, he likes what he's seeing and doesn't think the quarter will wind up being negative.
"It feels very good to me. I actually think it's going to be a great season," he told CNBC. He sees value in banks, technology, biotech and some social media names.
Private investor Evan Newmark, a CNBC contributor, pointed out that the management at most S&P 500 Index companies have figured out how to hit their numbers.
"They set the bar a little low, they're coming in above," he said. Newmark's interested in energy, which he pointed out is trading at its 52 week low after hitting highs about a year ago.
"You're getting kind of relatively cheap stocks if you don't believe the price of oil is going down to $40," he said.