Fragility aside, recovery by big US names appears to rule out double-dip recession

A slew of the world's biggest companies reported beating forecasts for sales and profits, giving lie to fears that the global economic recovery is already faltering.

Stock markets leapt higher as investors picked through scores of earnings reports from numerous sectors of the economy and while executives expressed caution and noted uncertainty over the future, few predicted a double-dip recession. The fragility of the economic recovery was again under discussion on Capitol Hill yesterday, where US lawmakers were questioning Ben Bernanke, the chairman of the Federal Reserve, for a second day of his twice-yearly report to Congress.

On day one, the central bank boss had warned that the outlook was "unusually uncertain", but he did not depart from his prediction that the US economy will continue to grow modestly. The Dow Jones was up more than 2 per cent by lunchtime in New York, more than erasing the drop that Mr Bernanke's testimony had caused on Wednesday. Traders were heartened by the results emerging from global corporations such as Caterpillar, the heavy equipment maker, 3M, and the airline industry.

Caterpillar's chief executive, Doug Oberhelman, said sales were so strong the company was on track to beat Wall Street's forecasts for the rest of the year, too. "While there are significant economic concerns around the world that we are watching closely, orders have continued to out-pace our shipments and we expect to increase production in the second half of the year," he said.

3M, an industrial conglomerate with operations spanning adhesives, plastics and electronics, but which is still most famous for the Post-it note, also raised its guidance. George Buckley, its chief executive, said: "There will be a period of slower growth in end markets later this year. This isn't a double-dip per se, it's just a soft spot and very normal as economic growth takes a breather for a while."

UPS, the shipping company, whose business activity reflects the strength or otherwise of economic activity, said it had almost doubled profits in the second quarter. And Continental, whose impending merger with United Airlines will turn it into the largest airline in the world, became the latest company from that sector to blow through Wall Street forecasts.

Its revenue jumped 19 per cent to $3.7bn (£2.4bn) as passenger numbers grew and its cargo business also showed a recovery. JetBlue and Alaska Air, smaller rivals of both airlines, also beat expectations on the top and bottom lines.

The positive momentum for earnings was broken last night, however, when Amazon announced second-quarter profits had fallen far short of hopes. The online retailer's operating costs rose sharply, even as it had to slash the price of its Kindle e-reader device to fend off competition from Apple. Amazon shares slumped 13 per cent in after-hours trading.

News
peopleHowards' Way actress, and former mistress of Jeffrey Archer, was 60
Sport
Romelu Lukaku puts pen to paper
sport
News
Robyn Lawley
people
Arts and Entertainment
Unhappy days: Resistance spy turned Nobel prize winner Samuel Beckett
books
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
people
Life and Style
Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson voice the show’s heroes
gamingOnce stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover
News
i100
Life and Style
Phones will be able to monitor your health, from blood pressure to heart rate, and even book a doctor’s appointment for you
techCould our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?
News
people
Extras
indybest
Travel
Ryan taming: the Celtic Tiger carrier has been trying to improve its image
travelRyanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Sport
Usain Bolt confirms he will run in both the heats and the finals of the men's relay at the Commonwealth Games
commonwealth games
Life and Style
Slim pickings: Spanx premium denim collection
fashionBillionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers 'thigh-trimming construction'
News
Sabina Altynbekova has said she wants to be famous for playing volleyball, not her looks
people
News
i100
Life and Style
tech'World's first man-made leaves' could use photosynthesis to help astronauts breathe
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Senior Investment Accounting Change Manager

£600 - £700 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Senior Investment Accounting Change...

BA/PM,EMIR/Dodd-Frank,London,£450-650P/D

£450 - £650 per day + competitive: Orgtel: My client, a leading bank, is curre...

Senior Analyst - ALM Data - Banking - Halifax

£350 - £400 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Senior Analyst, ALM Data, Halifax, ...

Java developer - Banking - London - Up to £600/day

£500 - £600 per day: Orgtel: Java developer - Banking - London - Up to £600/d...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

Spanx launches range of jeans

The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

Commonwealth Games

David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star