This chart shows earnings growth year over year and consumer confidence year over year plotted on top of one another.

In aggregate, S&P 500 companies have registered higher earnings for five consecutive quarters and appear on track to do so again in the last three months of this year.  While the rise in earnings can partly be attributed to more stable energy prices, confidence among U.S. consumers is also a key factor. U.S consumer confidence is at its highest level in nearly two decades. Companies have experienced a nice boost from U.S. consumer spending, which accounts for over two-thirds of the U.S. economy. S&P 500 earnings growth and consumer confidence growth have trended similarly since the early 1990s, meaning U.S. consumers’ attitudes may be a good barometer of what to expect from corporate earnings. In the end, consumers may determine how long the equity bull market will last in the U.S.