Survey Shows Economists Getting More Bearish

The big macro can cause big moves in the market. What does today's headline macro news mean for your portfolio?

What's happening: The National Association for Business Economics released its October survey today, which revealed that NABE members aren't as confident about U.S. economic growth as they were earlier in the year.

In plain English, please: In July's edition of the survey, 23% of those surveyed said they expected the economy to grow 2% or less during 2011. The share of participants expecting that outcome jumped to 84% in the current survey. The European debt crisis has also had a meaningful impact, as 20% of the respondents said they've seen sales declines as a result of what's going on in Europe.

On the bright side, nearly half of the participants cited rising sales in the third quarter versus just 13% who saw falling sales. Additionally, profit margins improved for 27% of respondents versus margin contractions for just 16%. In other words, more companies are still moving in the right direction.

Stocks to watch: If companies don't feel confident -- or just feel less confident -- in the future, that will affect decisions like hiring new workers and spending on new capital equipment. For that reason, these survey results should be particularly meaningful for consumer-focused companies like Best Buy (NYS: BBY) , Target (NYS: TGT) , and Procter & Gamble (NYS: PG) , which could be hurt if employment deteriorates and consumers have less to spend. The results are likewise worth tracking in relation to companies like Cisco (NAS: CSCO) and General Electric (NYS: GE) , which could see a slowdown if businesses get more cautious about their spending.

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