As earnings season begins, Nomura economist Sheard is 'optimistic'

Aluminum maker Alcoa reported a first-quarter net loss, kicking off six weeks of earnings results that will signal the direction of the U.S. economy.

The question investors want answered: What's next? Nomura chief global economist Paul Sheard told DailyFinance he's "optimistic" about economic growth later this year. "The worst is behind us," he said. Contraction in the U.S. economy was minus 6.1 percent in last year's fourth quarter and the first quarter of 2009 was a "bad quarter."