New York (CNN Business)Corporate profits rose ever so slightly in the fourth quarter of last year after three consecutive drops in the first part of 2019. Heading into 2020, analysts were optimistic that earnings would continue to rebound.Then the coronavirus outbreak happened. And now, all bets are off. The question on Wall Street is no longer about how much will profits increase this year but how bad will things get.Analysts surveyed by FactSet are forecasting a 1.7% decline in earnings for the S&P 500 during the first quarter. But that forecast is almost certain to be overly conservative. Estimates are dropping fast as companies warn of the impact that the coronavirus pandemic will have on demand, especially in China during the first three months of the year.Earnings forecasts should fall hard and fastAnalysts were expecting an earnings increase of 4.4% for the quarter at the start of 2020. But since then, 72 companies in the S&P 500 have said that first quarter results will miss forecasts. The second quarter is likely to be even worse, since that is when the full impact of shutdowns to businesses in the United States will be felt. This doesn’t appear to be factored into


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