Some 90 percent of the companies in the Standard & Poor's 500 index have reported fourth-quarter earnings, and profits are expected to rise 7.5 percent from the fourth quarter of 2011. That's an improvement from the 2.4 percent growth reported in the third quarter.
Corporate profits continue in a pattern of modest improvement. Even so, the market posted its worst drop of the year Monday as elections in Italy raised concerns about political instability in Europe.
Financial stocks are expected to lead S&P 500 earnings. Wells Fargo, the country's biggest mortgage lender, reported record quarterly earnings of $4.9 billion, up 25 percent from a year earlier.Associated Press