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Earnings 'green shoot' could signal stock gains ahead, says Fidelity strategist

Timmer: US economy is pretty robust

Corporate earnings appear to be at an inflection point that could set the backdrop for stock market gains, Jurrien Timmer, director of global macro at Fidelity Investments, said Thursday.

Second-quarter reports confirmed the corporate earnings recession stretched into a fourth straight quarter, but Timmer said he sees signs of hope in the reduced pace of profit declines.

While first-quarter earnings were down roughly 7 percent from the year-ago period, they so far appear poised to fall roughly 3 percent year over year in the second quarter, he noted. That means the rate of change, or the so-called second derivative, is improving, he said.

"When you look at inflection points, you have to look for the second derivative, and that certainly has improved for the first quarter," Timmer told CNBC's "Squawk on the Street." "Whether that's the beginning of a sustained trend remains to be seen of course, but there's definitely a green shoot here on the earnings front."

That is important because stock gains have been primarily driven by cheap and abundant capital as the Federal Reserve continues to keep interest rates low.

"If we now have a friendly liquidity environment through central bank easing, plus we have a few green shoots on the earnings front, I think that will stabilize the markets and maybe even give it some upside here," he said.

Timmer said China's ability to shock markets has diminished, noting that the Chinese were able to guide the yuan to a new low in the aftermath of Britain's vote to leave the European Union without causing financial market disruptions.

One year ago, a surprise devaluation of China's currency sent global markets reeling. Another "stealth devaluation" roughly six months later also rocked markets, Timmer said.

"The Chinese, I think, are closer to where they need to be, and they were able to do it while nobody was really looking, so that's a good sign," he said.