Stocks See Worst Drop in 4 Month

U.S. stocks fell sharply on Friday, with the major indexes posting their worst single-day hit since June, as poor earnings reports from three companies Microsoft, General Electric and McDonalds weighed.  The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 205.43 points, or 1.52%, to 13,343.51, leaving it with a 0.1% weekly gain. The S&P 500 index shed 24.15 points, or 1.66%, to 1,433.19, up 0.3% from last Friday’s close. The Nasdaq Composite lost 67.25 points, or 2.19%, to 3,005.62, down 1.3% for the week.

Microsoft Corp.’s (MSFT) net income fell 22 percent in the latest quarter as it deferred revenue from the sale of its upcoming Windows 8 operating system to PC makers — and as PC sales in general took a dive.

General Electric Co (GE) reported weaker-than-expected third-quarter revenue, hurt by unfavorable exchange rates, and set a cautious tone for 2013, saying it expects the tough economic environment to continue.

McDonald’s reported profits that were less than Wall Street expectations though revenues actually were higher, as the company battles a more difficult operating environment.

Unemployment rates fell or held steady last month in nine key swing states at the center of this year’s presidential election. Rates dropped in Ohio, Florida, Wisconsin, Colorado, Iowa, Nevada and North Carolina. They were unchanged in New Hampshire and Virginia. 

Crude-oil futures fell sharply Friday to end a mostly lackluster week with a 2% loss, weighed down by gains in the U.S. dollar even as traders continued to fret about the temporary shutdown of the Keystone pipeline. Oil for November delivery fell $2.05, or 2.2%, to settle at $90.05 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.






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