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Just when you thought that earnings season would continue to dominate the stock market news, the crisis in Europe chose to rear its ugly head. As protesters took to the streets, the euro fell to its lowest levels in nearly two years as investors fear a long recession on the Continent. Yet while European markets fell sharply, the damage to the Dow Jones Industrials (INDEX: ^DJI ) was more limited, as the average was down about 85 points just before 10:45 a.m. EDT.
But earnings continue to move the U.S. market. Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT ) gave up its pre-market gains to fall 1.5% after posting its first-ever quarterly loss. The software giant had already warned that it would write off $6.2 billion attributed to its acquisition of aQuantive five years ago. But the real question is whether its release of Windows 8 later this year will go as well as investors hope, given that the company is increasingly depending on success with the new operating system to drive results going forward.
Meanwhile, General Electric (NYSE: GE ) rose 0.4% after beating analyst estimates for its second-quarter results. Sales came in below expectations, although the strong dollar accounted for a substantial decrease in revenue. With the company making plans to split up its energy infrastructure unit into three separate divisions, the obvious question is why GE doesn't follow the big trend among companies and formally spin off its businesses into separately traded stocks. For now, though, the company seems to have no plans to do so.
Finally, financial stocks took it on the chin, with Bank of America (NYSE: BAC ) falling about 2% and JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM ) off 1.3%. Even with most U.S. banks arguing that their exposure to Europe is minimal, they're still vulnerable to potential fallout from a financial crisis there. With B of A announcing more job cuts earlier this week, the health of the company is still in doubt even after years of work to restore its fortunes after the financial crisis. Meanwhile, the LIBOR scandal could eventually implicate both B of A and JPMorgan Chase, adding further issues to the banks' already damaged reputations.
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