Continental divide

What a difference an ocean makes.

Reaction to the release Friday of U.S. GDP numbers varied depending on which side of the pond you’re from.

The headline on the Financial Times website read “US Growth Accelerates to 2.8%.” German’s Der Spiegel wrote “U.S. economy is growing strongly again.” It’s another story in the United States. Bloomberg said “U.S. economy grows 2.8%, less than forecast” and the Wall Street Journal added an element of doubt with “U.S. Economy Expands 2.8%, but Questions Persist.”

Do they ever. After an earlier relief rally the Dow, Nasdaq and S&P spent the rest of the week retracing their gains. This despite the Federal Reserve’s promise to keep interest rates near zero through the end of 2014, a clear signal that if you want to make money, you’ll have to shift the portfolio from cash to equities.

Of course everything is relative. In Europe the financial news of late doesn’t have traders dancing in the street. On Friday Fitch joined the Greek chorus of naysayers when it downgraded the credit of five Euro-zone countries including Italy and Spain. Europeans know they’re in financial trouble and may see the United States as a beacon of growth. Reflecting the sentiment of investors, American media apparently don’t agree. While U.S. housing and employment numbers seem to be improving they’re moving upward at a glacial pace.

So is the glass half empty or half full? Depends on where you stand.