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Q3 earnings reflect economic slowdown

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Kai Ryssdal:
We'll break into our coverage of the credit crisis now for this update on the regularly scheduled economy. It's not just regional banks making less money. Caterpillar's earnings slid today thanks to higher raw material costs and the global slowdown. And the company is not even tell us what it's expecting next year, saying conditions were too uncertain for those usual predictions.
From Ashley Milne-Tyte reports on corporate profits in a slower economy.


Ashley Milne-Tyte:
Some companies reporting earnings aren't even saying how they expect next year to pan out like, as they usually do. And that could leave investors jittery. Diane Swonk is chief economist at Mesirow Financial. She says this third quarter is yesterday's news, but investors want to know where a company is going in a wavering economy.

Diane Swonk: And to not to have any certainty about that, not to be reassured about that, that'll only feed into this inability for us to sort of gain some ground in the overall equity markets for a while and to feel like we're on firmer footing.

Swonk says there's a danger that a slew of disappointing earnings could see the market drop to a new low. Ben Halliburton is chief investment officer at Tradition Capital Management. He says today's earnings news wasn't all bad. 3M, maker of everything from Post Its to chemicals, reported an increase in profits as most of its divisions grew. And he thinks investors will distinguish between the winners and losers in coming weeks.

Ben Halliburton: As opposed to this broad-based panic that we had over the past couple of months, where even companies that were actually doing pretty well got hammered pretty severely.

Still, this a tough operating environment for most companies.

In New York I'm Ashley Milne-Tyte for Marketplace.

About the author

Ashley Milne-Tyte is the host of a podcast about women in the workplace called The Broad Experience.

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