China’s growth is slowing just as the world’s rich economies begin to gain momentum.
The 17 countries that use the euro currency appear to be recovering from a debt crisis that tipped them into a double-dip recession in late 2011.
In the United States, households have reduced crippling debt levels and are in better shape to start spending again. The International Monetary Fund expects the U.S. economy to grow 2.8 percent this year, up from 1.9 percent in 2013, and for the eurozone economy to grow 1 percent in 2014 after contracting 0.4 percent in 2013 and 0.7 percent in 2012.
Adolfo Laurenti, an economist at Mesirow Financial, expects the United States, Britain, Germany and Japan to drive global economic growth this year.
The “emerging economies that contributed most to global growth during the years following the Great Recession are expected to take a backseat,” he said in a research note.
It’s early yet in earnings season. Only 123 companies in the Standard & Poor’s 500 index have reported so far. Another 130 report next week.
So far, it’s been a decent season, at least on the surface.
About two-thirds of S&P 500 companies that have reported earnings for the last quarter have beaten analysts’ estimates, according to S&P Capital IQ. That is in line with the historical average.
Still, expectations have been falling. As recently as this summer, analysts predicted earnings growth of more than 11 percent for the quarter that companies are reporting now. That prediction has been nearly halved to 5.9 percent.
And forecasts may fall further. Seven of 10 companies that have talked about likely results for the current quarter have cut their projections, more than average, according to FactSet. Their stocks have tanked. Since United Continental lowered revenue estimates on Thursday, its stock fell 6 percent.
U.S.-based multinational companies had some of the biggest declines on Friday, as investors were reminded of how much those companies rely on overseas sales.