INVESTORS are worried US earnings growth may finally fall back to earth as turmoil in Europe and signs of a less robust Chinese economy hurt foreign support.

The Eurozone’s debt crisis and weakness in China have fuelled investor concern that the global economy could tip back into recession, possibly dampening US earnings growth at a time when the US economy is still struggling to gain ground.

Overseas sales have helped US companies beat earnings expectations in the last couple of years, with foreign sales totalling 30 per cent on average for Standard & Poor’s 500 companies.

“If the euro region is crumbling, that’s going to have a tremendous negative impact” on companies like McDonald’s, said Todd Schoenberger, managing director at LandColt Trading in Wilmington, Delaware.

“I’m not expecting a big earnings quarter,” he said. “We’ve been getting the clues already.”

The most recent company to trouble investors about the earnings outlook is Ingersoll Rand, whose shares tumbled 12.1 per cent to $28.09 on Friday after the industrial conglomerate cut its third-quarter and full-year earnings forecast to below market estimates. Investor pessimism is already high.

The S&P 500 finished the quarter with its worst performance since 2008, and many strategists have slashed their forecasts for year-end.

The S&P 500 dropped 14.3 per cent in the third quarter, losing about $1.7 trillion in market capitalisation.

A disappointing third-quarter earnings period could only trigger more losses, analysts said.