In Between Days

by CC October 21, 2011 12:00 am • Commentary


Microsoft reported third-quarter earnings of 68 cents per share, on $17.37 billion in revenue.

That meets Wall Street analysts’ forecasts on the EPS side and beats on the revenue side, but investors may have expected a little more.

Analysts, on average, expected Microsoft to earn 68 cents a share on $17.24 billion in revenue, according to FactSet.


Europe’s efforts to solve its escalating debt crisis plunged into disarray Thursday after Germany and France could not bridge their differences in time for a summit Sunday, forcing them to call a second meeting.

Sunday’s summit was supposed to deliver a comprehensive plan to finally get a grip on the currency union’s debt troubles by detailing new financing for debt-ridden Greece, a plan to make Europe’s banks fit to sustain worsening market turbulence and a scheme to make the euro-zone bailout fund more powerful.

The offices of French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced they needed more time after it became clear that the currency union’s two biggest countries could not agree on the main points of the plan.


The Greek parliament approved a painful set of austerity measures on Thursday, defying violent protests in central Athens and a general strike which shut down much of the country.

The struggling government of Socialist Prime Minister George Papandreou won the parliamentary vote with 154 votes in favor and 144 against, despite the decision by one deputy in the ruling party to oppose one article in the package.

The victory should ensure the European Union and International Monetary Fund release a vital 8 billion euro ($11 billion) loan tranche which the government needs to keep paying its bills past November.


The U.S. economy is seeing a run of better-than-expected news. But the slightly firmer tone for growth may mean nothing if the euro zone does not solve its protracted sovereign debt crisis.

The latest sign of improvement was a jump in activity reported by manufacturers with the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia region. The Philly Fed’s business activity index rose to 8.7 in October from -17.5 in September. The indexes covering new orders and shipments each increased to six-month highs.

“A host of indicators, including [the Philly Fed and job less claims], are moving back to the levels in April,” says Eric Green, chief rate strategist at TD Securities.

The return to spring levels is important. Back then, economists parsing the data thought the economy had enough momentum to grow at a 3.5% annual rate during the second half of 2011. In the survey done in early October by, the consensus forecast was down to just over 2%.

That outlook might change for the better. After better readings on September retailing and payroll gains and August business inventories, economists have been marking up their estimates for third-quarter economic growth.

The improving outlook, however, depends on a credible resolution to the debt problems in Greece and other peripheral euro zone nations.

Tomorrow’s Tape (WSJ)


  • 1:00 p.m. ET: Minneapolis Fed President Narayana Kocherlakota speaks.
  • 3:00 p.m.:  Fed Vice Chair Janet Yellen speaks.

Earnings: Before the bell, we get results from:

  • Schlumberger
  • Air Products & Chemicals
  • General Electric
  • Honeywell
  • McDonald’s
  • SunTrust
  • Verizon
  • Dover
  • Harman International