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Saturday, October 20, 2012

Is US stock market due for a major decline? Investors face earnings reports with dread as many big names miss estimates

(Reuters) - U.S. earnings started the quarter on the wrong foot, and things have only gotten worse.
Expectations for the third quarter were dismal, with forecasts for a decline in profits from a year ago. But a recent flurry of high-profile reports has investors scowling at the weak revenue numbers, adding to worries about the state of the U.S. economy and the outlook for corporate America.
"The earnings season is not looking very bright," said Larry Peruzzi, senior equity trader at Cabrera Capital Markets Inc., in Boston.
International Business Machines (IBM.N), General Electric (GE.N) and Microsoft (MSFT.O) fell short of revenue expectations, creating a sour mood early in the third-quarter reporting period.
The third quarter is among the most important for investors and economists because it is when companies begin to give a better picture of what the following year may look like.
The pace of earnings reports will accelerate next week, with eight Dowcomponents and 155 S&P 500 companies scheduled to release results. Tech heavyweight Apple Inc (AAPL.O) will be among them.
Just 38 percent of S&P 500 companies beat expectations on revenue in the past week, compared with 41 percent since the start of the reporting period, and well below the 62 percent long-term average, Thomson Reuters data showed.

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