Stock performance often seems uncoupled from key economic data and corporate earnings. In general, the stock market is anticipatory of what is to come, while economic data and earnings are lagging – the former by one month, the latter by three months. Thus, it is not uncommon for cyclical companies to be reporting their best earnings of the cycle amid strong data – just as the stock market begins to nosedive in anticipation of a slowdown or recession. And stocks may leap off their lows even amid a steady stream of dismal data. There is indeed an element of hope in the stock market’s anticipatory impulses. Never has that hope been so plainly in evidence as today as investors head into what looks to be an exceptionally weak second-quarter earnings season.