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Stock Market News for October 22, 2012

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Benchmarks took a battering on Friday as three industry heavyweights, Microsoft, General Electric and McDonald's, came out with discouraging economic reports. The Dow suffered its biggest fall in almost four months. Also, weekly gains were almost overshadowed by the heavy losses benchmarks suffered on Friday alone. Metals lost their sheen as copper and gold prices suffered declines.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) crashed 20.5.43 points or 1.5% to end at 13,343.51. The Standard & Poor 500 (S&P 500) slumped 1.7% to end Friday’s trading session at 1,433.19. The tech-laden Nasdaq Composite Index plunged 2.2% to close 67.25 points lower at 3,005.62. The fear-gauge CBOE Volatility Index gained 2.0% to settle at 17.06. Total volumes on the New York Stock Exchange were 3.3 billion shares. Declining stocks outnumbered advancers on the NYSE by a wide margin; as for 74% stocks that declined, 22% stocks closed higher.

The day was dominated by corporate results and the major ones disappointed. Earnings results almost single-handedly took the markets lower and the Dow suffered its biggest decline since June. Also, in terms of points, it was the Dow’s fourth worst show this year. Incidentally, it was the 25th anniversary of Black Monday, when on October, 19, 1987, the blue-chip index had lost 22%.

Coming to the details of the corporate results, Microsoft Corporation (NSADAQ:MSFT), McDonald's Corporation (NYSE:MCD) and General Electric Company (NYSE:GE) reported discouraging results and almost all of them blamed certain macroeconomic headwinds. Shares of Microsoft, McDonald's and General Electric lost 2.9%, 4.5% and 3.4%, respectively.

While the PC market slowdown was one of the factors that affected Microsoft, dull comparable-store sales and inflated costs affected McDonald's. Currency translation headwinds were also a reason behind McDonald's poor third quarter. Microsoft fell short of the Street’s estimates on both counts, but McDonald's moved past top line estimates and missed earnings expectations. As for General Electric, a decline in orders for wind turbines resulted in a 5% drop in infrastructure orders. However, General Electric’s bottom line was in line with estimates, while revenues fell short of projections.

Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. (NYSE:AMD) announced late on Thursday that its revenue slumped 10.2% sequentially and 24.9% year over year. AMD’s shares slumped 16.8%, adding to the woes of the tech sector.

The disappointing corporate results came hot on the heels of weak numbers reported by Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG). Shares of the world’s leading internet search engine had slumped 10.5% during Thursday’s session and trading was briefly halted. At the end of the trading day, Google’s shares were down 8% and closed at $695.00 per share. Weakness in the core internet advertising business and continual losses from its recently acquired cell phone business, Motorola Mobility, were the major factors behind Google’s third-quarter loss.

Earlier, Intel Corporation (NASDAQ:INTC) and International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE:IBM) had also reported weak numbers. Shares of all the three aforementioned companies slumped on Friday while the Technology Select Sector SPDR (XLK) dropped 2.2%. Shares of Google, Intel and IBM dropped 1.9%, 1.9% and 0.8%, respectively. Separately, shares of Hewlett-Packard Company (NYSE:HPQ), Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), NVIDIA Corporation (NASDAQ:NVDA) and Texas Instruments Incorporated (NASDAQ:TXN) plunged 2.2%, 3.6%, 5.9% and 3.3%, respectively.

Meanwhile, metal prices fell considerably on Friday. While copper plunged 3% to settle at $3.6375 a pound, gold was down by $20.70 to $1,724 per ounce. Also, energy prices dropped with benchmark crude losing $2.05 to settle at $90.05 per barrel. The Energy Select Sector SPDR (ETF) was down 1.6% and stocks including Chevron Corporation (NYSE:CVX), Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE:XOM), TOTAL S.A. (ADR) (NYSE:TOT) and Western Refining, Inc. (NYSE:WNR) lost 1.1%, 1.4%, 1.2% and 2.5%, respectively.

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