Editor's Note: This article was originally published on Real Money at 12 p.m. EDT on May 13. To see latest Real Money commentary as it's published, sign up for a free trial of Real Money.NEW YORK ( Real Money) -- How long will stocks keep climbing? Or, put another way, when will the party end? The elephant in the room is the Federal Reserve and when it will decide to stop injecting money into the system. When the Fed stops making asset purchases, it will be a move heard around the world. Rest assured that by the time the Fed actually announces it is done buying, Mr. Market will probably have already started taking some chips off the table. We can focus on the Fed's meeting minutes for clues, but the only thing we know for sure is that each passing day brings us one day closer to that day of reckoning. In the meantime, investors should take stock of the following useful market data:
- According to S&P Capital IQ, first-quarter corporate earnings grew by 5%, year-over-year. That's a respectable figure, but there is a bit more to it. Sales during the quarter grew by only 1%.
- Corporate compensation averaged 55% of sales, one of the lowest rates in decades.