It's a tough day for blue chips. Roughly halfway through the session, shares in 29 of the 30 companies listed on the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI ) are trading lower -- and the only one up, Bank of America (NYSE: BAC ) , is teetering on the brink as well, with a positive margin of only $0.03. As a whole, the index is currently down 160 points, or 1.17%.
The immediate impetus for the decline was a conflicting report issued this morning concerning the housing sector. On the one hand, according to the National Association of Realtors, sales of existing homes decreased 1.7% last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.75 million.
On the other hand, home prices notched their seventh consecutive monthly year-over-year increase, growing 11.3% since September 2011. According to the NAR, the last streak of this length occurred between November 2005 and May 2006. In addition, total housing inventory fell last month by 3.3%. The number of existing houses for sale is now down by 20% on a year-over-year basis.
Beyond the mixed news in housing, traders are currently fixated on the disappointing trend in third-quarter earnings. Technology giants Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT ) and Google (Nasdaq: GOOG ) spooked the market yesterday with disappointing results.
Microsoft's results come amid a growing concern over the state of the personal-computer market and the readiness of its newest operating system, Windows 8. At an employee meeting last month, Intel (Nasdaq: INTC ) CEO Paul Otellini was quoted as saying that the product wasn't ready for release -- though he did qualify the comment by remarking that releasing it now was nevertheless the right move.
Google caused a stir after its earnings were inadvertently released early due to a clerical error at its financial printer, R.R. Donnelley (Nasdaq: RRD ) . The search giant's profit slid a surprising 20% from the same quarter a year ago. After closing 8% lower yesterday, shares in the company are down an additional 2.5% today.
And today, McDonald's (NYSE: MCD ) and General Electric (NYSE: GE ) picked up the baton, both falling short of expectations in one way or another. McDonald's reported a profit of $1.43 a share compared with the consensus estimate of $1.47. It also acknowledged that same-store sales in October are currently trending lower. If its comps finish the month down, according to The Wall Street Journal, it will be the first time such a thing has happened in nearly a decade.
Meanwhile, General Electric blamed unfavorable currency-exchange rates for revenue figures that missed analysts' estimates by $640 million. According to the company, revenue would have been $1.1 billion higher without the negative impact. Shares in the industrial conglomerate are down in intraday trading by 2.8%
Foolish bottom line
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