The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) had slumped by 31 points as of 11:30 a.m. EDT Wednesday, threatening to break a multisession winning streak. Dow component Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) contributed to the sell-off. Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) was also in the red ahead of its earnings report, while SunPower (NASDAQ:SPWR) was a notable outperformer.
New home sales disappoint
Perhaps helping to fuel the Dow Jones' sell-off, the Census Bureau said new home sales last month fell 14.5% to an annualized pace of 384,000, far short of the 450,000 estimate from economists surveyed by Bloomberg.
Weaker than expected new home sales suggest a weakening U.S. housing market, as fewer workers may have the money, or the incentive, to purchase new homes. However, this miss stands in stark contrast to Tuesday's data on existing home sales, which exceeded expectations, indicating the strength of the housing market is mixed.
Microsoft stumbles ahead of report
Shares of Microsoft were down about 1% early in the session, making it the worst-performing Dow tech stock. There wasn't any news in particular affecting Microsoft's business, but shares continue to drift lower ahead of its expected earnings report Thursday.
Microsoft investors will be looking to see how -- if at all -- the steadily weakening personal computer market has affected the company's business. The end of technical support for Windows XP may have netted Microsoft some additional Windows license sales, but IDC and other research firms have warned that the traditional PC market will continue to dwindle in the months and years ahead.
Apple earnings release hours away
Apple will report earnings this afternoon, and company shares fell 0.6% early in Wednesday's session as investors sold off the stock. For the quarter, analysts are looking for Apple to report earnings per share of about $10.33 on revenue of $43.6 billion. Apple is expected to have sold 38.2 million iPhones, 19.4 million iPads, and 4 million Macs.
Those numbers are a bit higher than the same period last year. Apple's growth has slowed to a crawl in recent quarters -- shareholders should look to management for any guidance on new products. Apple has promised to release revolutionary new products in 2014, but none have yet materialized.
SunPower does deal with Google
SunPower shares rose 8.6% after the maker of solar panels announced a deal with search giant Google that would help more families gain access to solar power.
SunPower is contributing $150 million to the program, while Google will provide $100 million. The financing will be used to help residential users lease solar panels -- customers pay nothing up front, instead paying for the panels in monthly installments. The program should help SunPower sell more of its products.
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