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A long hoped for improvement in the economy appears to be manifesting itself in second-quarter U.S. earnings, but the next two weeks could be the real test. Companies such as General Electric Co. and Intel Corp. have reported solid results. In addition, 68 percent of S&P 500 companies so far are beating analysts' profit expectations, above the 63 percent long-term average, according to Thomson Reuters data.The latest profit estimate is up from a July 1 forecast of 6.2 percent, while revenue growth, now 3.2 percent, is on track to be the highest since the third quarter.The next two weeks, however, will see 60 percent of the S&P 500 release their results.One promising sign for the second quarter: typically pessimistic analysts' forecasts, which most S&P 500 companies still tend to beat, declined just 2.2 percentage points between April 1 and July 1 .
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