The Dow (DJINDICES:^DJI) and the broader S&P 500 (SNPINDEX:^GSPC) both eked out small gains today; the indexes were up 0.2% and 0.3%, respectively.

The micro view: The earnings outlook for the S&P 500 won't get much help from Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN), as both companies reported disappointing earnings after the close today. This is particularly significant with regard to Apple, which represented 3.7% of the S&P 500's earnings-per-share estimate for the third quarter, the second-largest contributor after ExxonMobil.

Apple earned $8.67 per share ex-items in its fiscal fourth quarter; analysts were looking for $8.75 per share. Optically, it's a small miss, but this is Apple that we're talking about. Furthermore, the company said that it expects to earn $11.75 in its fiscal first quarter, a massive shortfall with respect to the estimate of $15.43. To understand how these latest results affect the 'buy' case for Apple, click here to request technology analyst Eric Bleeker's premium report on Apple, and you'll also receive a year's worth of updates.

Amazon reported a loss ex-items of $0.23 per share, versus a consensus estimate of $0.08 per share. Revenue was roughly in line with expectations -- $13.81 billion versus $13.92 billion -- but the company said it expects fourth quarter revenues in a range of $20.25 billion to $20.75 billion, which is materially short of analysts' estimate of $22.79 billion.

Expect a rough day for technology shares tomorrow!

The macro view: According to S&P Dow Jones Indices, we're now roughly halfway through the earnings season. As of October 24, 245 companies with full comparative data for the third quarter, 153 (62%) have beaten expectations, 56 (23%) have missed, and 36 (15%) have met their estimates. A 62% 'beat' rate might sound very impressive, but it's actually significantly lower than the rate over the past several quarters. The two sectors with the highest percentage of companies beating estimates are consumer staples and financials, while, at the other end of the spectrum, the sectors with the highest percentage of companies falling short are materials and industrials. That seems pretty consistent with a slowing economy -- mind the earnings gap!