ByJohn S. McClenahen For the foreseeable future, growth in capital expenditures will be limited to replacing older, obsolete equipment, believes Ron Wexler, a U.S. economist at Merrill Lynch & Co., New York. And this, he contends, means that the recovery from the 2001 U.S. recession will feel sub-par "well into 2004." But all is not bleak in his analysis. "The good news is that this conclusion does not apply to all companies," Wexler says. "Roughly half of the S&P 500 have shown improvements since the end of the recession while the other half has gone in the opposite direction."