Europe Returns to Sink Dow, Markets


With earnings season upon us and news swinging toward different companies' hits and misses, it's been easy to forget about Europe. After agreements were hammered out late in June for a eurowide banking supervisor, Europe took a back seat.

However, reminders that the Europe situation is far from resolved came back to the forefront today. Bond auctions in Spain once again went poorly, with yields on 10-year notes once again spiking past the (supposedly) crucial 7% mark. While Spanish yields sunk back below 6.5% in the wake of optimism immediately following the EU summit, they've since crept back up.

Curiously, an auction in France -- a country with hefty debt loads and deficits of its own -- sold bonds at extremely low rates. Five-year French debt yielded just 0.86%.

The end result of Europe weighing on investors' minds? Markets are down. The Dow Jones (INDEX: ^DJI) has retreated 0.97% as of 1:55 p.m. EDT, while the S&P 500 (INDEX: ^GSPC) is down 0.90%.

Back across the pond: Microsoft earnings
Back in America, earnings were the sideshow to worrying over Europe's problems. Microsoft (NAS: MSFT) led tech reporting last night and delivered results that carried the company to reasonable gains in after-hours trading last night. However, as the day progressed, investors began focusing on the negatives. Shares are currently down.

The headline number in Microsoft's announcement was Windows sales down 13% year over year. The company is quick to point out that its Windows drop is driven by how it's accounting for a future Windows upgrade offer. Essentially, those sales are being booked as "unearned revenue" and will be realized in future periods. Without the upgrade, Microsoft says Windows sales would have been off just 1% year over year.

Yet despite Microsoft's assurances of a massive Windows 8 launch, it's hard not to notice weakness in the segment. When partner Intel (NAS: INTC) announced earnings this week, it noted softness in markets like America and Europe while emerging markets -- though slowing down -- continued driving growth. The problem for Microsoft is that piracy runs rampant in those markets, allowing hardware vendors like Intel to collect sales, while Microsoft's software is illegally copied.

The good news for Microsoft investors? The company is moving beyond Windows. While investors think of Microsoft through the lens of its operating system, Microsoft's more profitable Office unit continues to grow at good rates. Meanwhile, its servers and tools business, which has products like Windows for servers, is seeing fantastic growth rates.

General Electric (NYS: GE) played the ying to Microsoft's yang. While Microsoft started out the day in positive territory and fell back, GE started the day in negative territory and has been surging as the day goes on. The stock is now up 2.75% on the day. The cause for optimism centers around good results from the financials segment while GE energy continues performing well. GE Capital earnings were up 31% from last year while its energy unit saw a 13% jump in profits.

Take the long-term view
That's it for today's market recap. If you're looking for advice on how to invest in GE after today's jump, you need to understand how bets on its energy unit could drive this company to become the world's infrastructure leader. At the same time, you need to be aware of the threats to GE's portfolio. To help, we're offering comprehensive coverage for investors in a premium report on General Electric, in which one of our top analysts breaks down GE's multiple businesses. You'll find reasons to buy or sell GE, and you'll receive continuing updates as major events unfold during the year. To get started, click here now.

The article Europe Returns to Sink Dow, Markets originally appeared on

Eric Bleeker owns shares of no companies listed above. The Motley Fool owns shares of Microsoft and Intel. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Intel and Microsoft, as well as creating a bull call spread position in Microsoft. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

Copyright © 1995 - 2012 The Motley Fool, LLC. All rights reserved. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.