What the Market Taught Me This Week

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Earnings season is in full swing, which means the Motley Fool 10% Promise team is hard at work reporting on all of the earnings moves this year.

We should worry about Europe
If you watch any of the 24-hour news stations, you may get the impression that the debt ceiling debate in Washington is having a huge impact on business in the U.S. But based on earnings this week, we should fret more about Europe. Riverbed Technology (Nasdaq: RVBD  ) and Travelzoo (Nasdaq: TZOO  ) both missed expectations based largely on weak earnings across the Atlantic. Watch to see whether this becomes a common theme throughout earnings season. 

As if Europe hurting earnings weren't enough, European banks can’t seem to decide which way is up. On Monday, fellow Fool Matt Koppenheffer reported on how Allied Irish Banks (NYSE: AIB  ) , Bank of Ireland (NYSE: IRE  ) , Royal Bank of Scotland (NYSE: RBS  ) , and several others fell after worries about a recent stress test hit the market. Yet on Thursday, Matt reported that shares of those same banks jumped after positive Greek bailout news.

All that moving around convinces me that there are two investments I wouldn’t touch with a 10-foot pole right now: European banks and Chinese small caps.

The HOG is back
What indicators do you look for that the U.S. economy is back on its feet? Many look at unemployment, GDP growth, or maybe corporate earnings. But when I saw that Harley-Davidson (NYSE: HOG  ) posted an 18% increase in motorcycle sales over last year, I got a twinge of hope. Nothing says blue collar, non-essential spending like a Harley. If the middle class is willing to spend money on big bad bikes, we’re headed in the right direction.

Foolish bottom line
Maybe we should be keeping a closer eye on Europe than the U.S. as earnings continue to pour out. Slower growth in Europe could bring investment to the U.S., but could also hurt business at companies with a large exposure to Europe.

Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Travelzoo and Riverbed Technology. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

Fool contributor Travis Hoium does not have a position in any company mentioned. You can follow Travis on Twitter at @FlushDrawFool, check out his personal stock holdings or follow his CAPS picks at TMFFlushDraw. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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