A Nasdaq employee works at his computer at the Nasdaq MarketSite, in New York, Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
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A stream of rosy profit reports has helped soothe the nerves of investors rattled by this month's stock market plunge. U.S. companies are seeing the biggest growth spurt in quarterly earnings in six years, and the pace is set to accelerate. Now that most companies have reported 2017 results, it's becoming clear what could go right or wrong in the coming quarters.Overall earnings per share growth was 51 percent, led by a more than doubling of profit at consumer discretionary and telecommunications companies.The company expects earnings per share to rise 16 percent this year from 2017 .the moneyThe reduction in the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent will add about 6 percentage points to the S&P 500 Index's earnings growth, or almost $9 per share, Credit Suisse estimates. What companies do with the extra cash will impact profit.Stock ValuationsAnalysts are predicting earnings will surge about 21 percent more this year. That's after a 15 percent increase in the last three months of 2017, the biggest since the second quarter of 2011, with gains by companies as diverse as Facebook Inc. and ConocoPhillips. Fourth-quarter sales rose 7.9 percent with more than 80 percent of Standard & Poor's 500 Index companies having reported results.
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