US economy slowdown, Economy cooling, Financial markets, Corporate forecasts
From Daily Finance May 22, 2010.
“Forget Europe: Signs of a Slowdown in the U.S.”
“Financial markets around the world are fixated on Europe as it grapples with its debt woes. Though probably overdone, investor paranoia is understandable. The fallout for the global economy would be massive if things spiraled out of control, unlikely as that may seem for the moment.
While potentially catastrophic developments overseas may be captivating, investors would do well to stay focused on more subtle developments in the U.S. Much of Wall Street remains bullish on the prospects of an economic recovery, but some signs suggest that a slowdown may be materializing nonetheless.
Watch Corporate Guidance and Economic Indicators
Hosted software provider Salesforce.com (CRM) is the latest company to report strong results for the first quarter but provide a forecast that couldn’t live up to Wall Street’s expectations. On Thursday, the company said it expected earnings per share of between $1.13 and $1.15 for the full year. That was well below the $1.28 analysts had forecast, and shares tumbled in trading after hours.
The results from Salesforce.com mirror those of networking giant Cisco (CSCO) last week. While Cisco delivered a strong first quarter, shares were initially hammered based on a lackluster outlook for the rest of the year. Hardware giant Dell (DELL) also came under fire as concerns about its ability to maintain profits grew despite solid results for the first quarter.
A slew of retailers including Lowe’s (LOW), Home Depot (HD) and Wal-Mart (WMT) have also provided skimpy guidance for the rest of the year. And while companies may well be trying to game Wall Street by setting the bar low only to dazzle later, recent economic data suggests that the economy could also be slowing after a sharp rebound in demand from depressed lows.
A set of closely watched indicators released Thursday by the Conference Board showed that the economy may be cooling as it heads into the second half of the year. Those findings echo leading indicators monitored by the Economic Cycle Research Institute, which noted that “the pace of improvement in the overall economy is set to slacken in the months ahead” as measures fell to a 40-week low.
Soft retail sales and a sudden rise in jobless claims have contributed to the darkening picture.”