More than half the companies in the Standard & Poor's 500 index have reported first-quarter earnings. Throughout earnings season, the forecasts of financial analysts have slowly risen. They now expect the S&P 500 to report earnings growth of 3.6 percent in the first three months of this year, compared with the first quarter of last year. In early April analysts expected growth of less than 1 percent.
Even with the improved outlook, the final tally is still likely to mark a sharp drop from the 7.7 percent growth recorded in the fourth quarter of last year, according to S&P Capital IQ.Associated Press