Let's be clear: The economy is not falling into the abyss.

True, the 10-year Treasury note has been surging recently and the Nasdaq has declined for six out of the last seven weeks. Yes, Friday's employment report for February was a big disappointment and expectations for an interest rate hike have been pushed out until much later this year. But economists have not been lowering their projections for economic growth in 2004.

In fact, estimates have been increasing.

A recent Blue Chip poll shows that economists are now expecting growth of 4.7% this year, based on a solid outlook for consumer spending and a strong rebound in business investment. A host of companies also seem optimistic about the outlook.

Industrial manufacturer Danaher ( DHR) boosted its first-quarter and full-year earnings targets Wednesday, saying the economic recovery has continued to accelerate.

On Tuesday, diversified industrial company Ingersoll-Rand ( IR) raised its first-quarter profit forecast to a range of 70 cents to 80 cents a share from a previous range of 65 cents to 75 cents a share. The company, which is often considered a good proxy for the strength of the overall economy, cited strength in many of its end markets.

Meanwhile, automation-equipment maker Rockwell Automation ( ROK) said it expects second-quarter earnings above Wall Street's estimates, and computer products vendor CDW Corp. ( CDWC) said average daily sales in February rose 31%. Earlier this week, Texas Instruments ( TXN) said first-quarter results should hit the high end of its estimates.

Earnings from cyclical companies, whose fortunes rise and fall along with the economy, are expected to be up sharply this year. Profits from basic-materials companies are seen rising 53% in 2004, while industrial firms are expected to show earnings growth of 14%, according to Thomson First Call. Consumer cyclicals, which includes retailers and autos, are forecast to grow profits by 17% and the S&P 500 overall is slated to produce a 13% jump in earnings this year.

If you liked this article you might like

Coming Week: Earnings Flood

Coming Week: Earnings Flood

Don't Write Off Inflation Threat

Don't Write Off Inflation Threat

No Quick Fix for Trade Gap

No Quick Fix for Trade Gap

Merrill's Doll Sees Stocks 'Muddling Through'

Merrill's Doll Sees Stocks 'Muddling Through'

Downhill From Profit Peak

Downhill From Profit Peak