Here are five things you must know for Friday, July 20:
1. -- Stocks Mixed as Trump Rips Federal Reserve
U.S. stock futures traded mixed on Friday, July 20, as did shares in Europe and Asia as investors fixated on comments from Donald Trump that could suggest the dollar may by the next weapon in the White House's arsenal in the brewing trade war.
Trump sent markets tumbling on Thursday, July 19, when in an interview to be aired Friday he said he "wasn't thrilled" with the Federal Reserve's signalling of future rate hikes, and the dollar strength it inevitably creates, when China's yuan is "dropping like a rock" and the European single currency is declining. "It puts us at a disadvantage," he said.
Trump's comments, which breach years of presidential protocol that allows the Fed to operate independently, followed two days of testimony from Fed Chairman Jerome Powell that appeared to have cemented the case for at least two more rate hikes this yea, as the economy continues to outperform and inflation rises.
"Every time you go up they want to raise rates again," Trump said. "I am not happy about it. But at the same time I'm letting them do what they feel is best."
The dollar index responded to Trump's comments in overnight trading, falling 1.6% against a basket of six global currencies to 95.06, before recovering early Friday to 95.13.
The economic calendar in the U.S. on Friday includes a speech by St. Louis Fed President James Bullard on the "U.S. Economy and Monetary Policy" in Glasgow, Kentucky, at 8:20 a.m. ET, and the weekly Baker-Hughes Rig Count at 1 p.m.
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2. -- Microsoft Beats Estimates on Surging Cloud Strength
Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) - Get Report was rising 3.4% in premarket trading on Friday after the software giant posted better-than-expected fiscal fourth-quarter earnings on the surging strength of its cloud computing business.
Microsoft reported adjusted earnings of $1.13 a share in the quarter, topping forecasts of $1.07. Revenue in the period rose 17.5% to $30.09 billion and also beat analysts' estimates.
Driving the earnings beat and the revenue jump in the fourth quarter was a 93% increase in sales for Microsoft's flagship Azure clouding computing business, and solid growth for its productivity and business processes unit, which includes its Office 365 suite, where sales rose 13.1% to $9.67 billion.
"Our commercial cloud business surpassed more than $23 billion in revenue for the year with gross margin expanding to 57%," CEO Satya Nadella told investors on a conference call following the release of earnings Thursday. "The strength of our results reflects accelerating innovation and the trust customers are placing in us to power their digital transformation."
On the conference call, Microsoft guided for its three reporting segments to collectively produce fiscal first-quarter revenue of $27.35 billion to $28.05 billion; analysts were predicting $27.4 billion. Microsoft didn't provide an earnings projection for the first quarter.
"We continue to see Azure as a driving source of growth as we believe it represents the best option for those companies looking to implement a hybrid cloud environment as the Azure "stack" can be installed on internal servers, allowing for seamless transition between both environments," said Cramer and the AAP team. "Also, Microsoft stands to benefit from companies looking to avoid a cloud computing partnership with Amazon (AMZN) - Get Report , making Microsoft the No. 2 player with plenty of room for runway in a secular growth market.
3. -- General Electric Earnings Top Forecasts
General Electric Co. (GE) - Get Report reported second-quarter earnings on Friday of 19 cents a share, beating Wall Street estimates by 1 cent, as revenue of $30.1 billion beat forecasts of $29.4 billion, according to analysts surveyed by FactSet.
The stock rose 0.7% in premarket trading after being up as much as 2.8%.
Schlumberger Ltd. (SLB) - Get Report posted second-quarter adjusted profit of 43 cents a share, beating Wall Street estimates by 1 cent. Revenue of $8.3 billion came in below estimates of $8.36 billion. The stock was up 0.4%.
4. -- Skechers Sinks on Earnings Miss, Weak Guidance
The company reported a second-quarter sales record of $1.134 billion, a 10.6% increase from a year earlier. But earnings of 29 cents a share were far below analysts' estimates of 41 cents.
Skechers said it expects third-quarter revenue of between $1.2 billion and $1.225 billion and earnings of 50 cents to 55 cents a share. Analysts were calling for revenue of $1.26 billion and earnings of 68 cents a share.
5. -- Chick-fil-A Is Retiring Its Cow Calendar
Chick-fil-A said this year will be the last year it's offering Cow Calendars, an item that has proven to be very popular with its customers, according to the News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C.
For 20 years, the chain restaurant has sold the calendars. Not only are they amusing, they are also popular because customers who have the calendar get a free menu item each month, the newspaper reported.
Many customers have taken to Twitter and Facebook to voice their disapproval. One customer tweeted, "Chick-fil-A is getting rid of the Cow Calendar omg what am I gonna buy myself for Christmas now?"
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