NEW YORK – FedEx Corp. expects the global economy to hit a higher gear later this year as fuel prices retreat from three-year highs and the Japanese economy recovers. While much of the growth will be driven by China and other developing nations, FedEx said the U.S. economy will improve as well.

The world’s second-largest package delivery company issued the economic outlook Wednesday as it reported a 33 percent increase in earnings for the quarter ended May 31.

FedEx expects the U.S. economy to grow 2.5 percent this year and 3 percent in 2012. The company expects growth to accelerate in the second half of the year. The economy grew at an annual rate of only 1.8 percent in the first three months of the year and isn’t expected to grow much faster in the current quarter.

The Federal Reserve said Wednesday it expects the economy to grow between 2.7 and 2.9 percent this year.

The Memphis, Tenn., company is considered a bellwether of global economic health because it ships a wide variety of goods. Its financial performance tends to reflect business and consumer spending.

FedEx tends to perform well when industrial output is strong. The company expects U.S. industrial production to grow around 4.2 percent this year and another 4.3 percent next year.

“We believe the industrial sector will lead growth in the United States and overseas in the next two years,” Chairman Frederick W. Smith said.