Here at the Fool, we've searched high and low across the Web this Thursday morning to find the biggest news and best stories around. Here are your top five morning reads.

1. An avalanche of earnings
A couple of tech heavies had trouble racking up the surprise profits that many of their competitors have:

  • eBay (NASDAQ:EBAY) saw a steep 29% profit decline from last year despite increasing revenues. Network equipment maven LM Ericsson did even worse -- its net profit crashed to 71% lower than last year. (Read more at The Wall Street Journal and All Things Digital.)
  • Earnings this morning were a bit rosier, but still mixed. Merck (NYSE:MRK) tripled last year's profits, AT&T (NYSE:T) saw strong wireless sales, McDonald's saw profits and comps rise, and Travelers (NYSE:TRV) was helped by an increasing investment portfolio and lower catastrophic losses claims. However, Dow Chemical (NYSE:DOW) had to ruin the party with declining revenue and tepid guidance. (Read more at Yahoo! Finance (Dow), All Things Digital (AT&T), Bloomberg (McDonald's), Reuters (Merck), and MarketWatch (Travelers).)

2. Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) and Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), finally online equals?
While Google still maintains a massive lead in search volume, Microsoft has closed the technology gap. This week featured a back and forth where Microsoft announced a new feature for searching Twitter and Facebook, only to see Google immediately fire back with a Twitter deal of its own. Not to be forgotten in this spat: Microsoft releases Windows 7 today. Its new operating system has been well-reviewed, and the company hopes it'll restore some of the goodwill lost during the Vista era. (Read more at The Wall Street Journal.)

3. Want a good read?
New York Magazine has ranked the litany of books written on the financial crisis. In case you need it, here's a cheat sheet for interpreting the rating scale they use. (Read more at New York Magazine.)

4. A giant speaks, no one listens
Paul Volcker, the former Fed chairman who helped to choke inflation in the early '80s, has been pushing to prohibit banks from holding risky securities. So far, the administration refuses to separate commercial banking and investment interests; should it be listening? (Read more at The New York Times.)

5. A tale of two paths?
As Moody's threatens to downgrade U.S. debt if its deficit isn't cut to manageable levels within three to four years, China reports 8.9% growth over last year's third quarter. (Read more at Reuters, Bloomberg, and another link for the China Skeptic.)

Check Fool.com throughout the day for commentary and analysis on these and other stories. Or you can follow us on Twitter, on Facebook, or through our email digests.

Eric Bleeker owns shares of no companies listed above. Google is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommendation. eBay and Moody's are Motley Fool Stock Advisor selections. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.