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Surprisingly, Wall Street was blessed with some good news today and, if you missed it due to the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI ) falling more than 1.52%, ending the day at 13,343, don't fell bad.
Wait, did you miss it again? The Dow only fell 1.52% today; but 25 years ago on this day, it fell 23%. So the good news is that today could have been worse.
In all seriousness, there were reports of good news today. The National Association of Realtors announced that homes prices have seen year-over-year increases for the seventh straight month. The sale price increased by 11.3% in September, compared to the same month last year, and inventory is down 20% from where it was last year. The only real negative aspect of the report was that the number of homes sold dropped 1.7% from August.
But that's enough of the positive; let's get to the negative stuff. With the Dow down more than 205 points, there's no shortage of losers to talk about today. This morning, I explained why General Electric (NYSE: GE ) , McDonald's (NYSE: MCD ) , and Caterpillar (NYSE: CAT ) were down; click here to read about those companies, or stick with me to find out about Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT ) , Intel (Nasdaq: INTC ) , Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ ) , and AT&T (NYSE: T ) .
So why are they down?
Microsoft announced third quarter earnings yesterday after the bell and, simply stated, the company missed. Shares closed the day down 2.90%. While we have already seen results from other PC-related Dow stocks, the poor performance from Microsoft didn't help anyone.
Intel saw its shares drop by 1.87%, while Hewlett-Packard's stock lost 1.91%. Over the past few weeks, we have seen a number of reports that PC sales were sliding, and Microsoft's earnings stated just that. But what was more interesting, and probably affected the PC-related companies, was Microsoft's announcement that Windows 8 pre-sales revenue was 40% higher than Windows 7 during a comparative launch quarter. This may indicate that more businesses are simply purchasing the upgraded software, and are going to pass on upgrading the whole PC device.
AT&T also saw shares tumble today by 1.94%. The company is following its fellow telecom giant rival when it comes to pension obligations. Today, AT&T announced that its plan was underfunded by about $10.2 billion at the end of 2011, and it will contribute a stake of its wireless business in the amount of $9.5 billion in order to secure the fund. Just this past Wednesday, Verizon Communications (NYSE: VZ ) transferred $7.5 billion in pension obligations to insurer Prudential, an amount that would cover a quarter of its long term retirement burden.
Even with a bad quarter, Microsoft is still a top tier company in the minds of most investors. Our analyst recently put together a great report, which details a number of key opportunities and risks that the company will face in the future. In it, you'll even find out if Microsoft is still a buy. Simply click here.