A flood of reports from other corporations follows next week before gradually slowing to a trickle by the month's end.
How investors perceive those numbers could well kick off an up- or downtrend in share prices that will continue for weeks, or even months.
That is especially true if there is an "earnings surprise."
An "earnings surprise" occurs when the revenues and profits a company reports differ significantly from analyst expectations.
Positive surprises - earnings that beat the pre-report forecasts - tend to drive stock prices higher, while negative surprises send them lower.
The bigger the surprise, the more rapid and dramatic the move becomes.
Will JPMorgan (NYSE: JPM) Earnings Surprise?One prime candidate for an earnings surprise in this cycle is JPMorgan Chase.
Usually considered one of the strongest companies in the financial sector, JPM would normally be expected to surpass the pre-report estimates. After all, the company has beat earnings in three of the past four quarters - including an 11% surprise in the January-March period, when earnings came in at $1.31 a share vs. a projected $1.18.
However, the company has been rocked by controversy following revelations that it suffered more than $4 billion in trading losses on what JPM called a "hedging strategy" but others described as an outright "bet" on interest rates.