By John Carney, CNBC.com Senior Editor
NEW YORK ( CNBC) -- On Monday we got news from Caterpillar ( CAT) that strong demand for its mining and construction equipment led the company to take a more optimistic outlook about the rest of 2011 and 2012. Then, today, another giant American company -- 3M ( MMM) -- filed disappointing results and slashed its outlook for the rest of the year. So one company sees expansion, the other sees contraction. It's confusing for investors. It's confusing for smaller businesses that often take their cues from the corporate titans. Are we headed into a new global slump or have we avoided one? I'm calling it The Mystery Economy.
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