After a

helluva rally Wednesday sparked by the

Fed's

surprise interest-rate cut, the market is bracing for another day in the trenches as earnings season marches on.

Today's earnings cavalcade will be led by tech gorilla

Microsoft

(MSFT) - Get Microsoft Corporation (MSFT) Report

, which will issue profit results for its fiscal third quarter. According to

Thomson Financial/First Call

, the Redmond, Wash.-based company is expected to post third-quarter earnings of 42 cents a share, which would best its year-ago EPS by a penny.

Shares of Mister Softee closed up $5.41, or 8.8%, at $65.43 Wednesday.

Click here for a

TheStreet Recommends

complete list of today's earnings announcements.

On the economic front, the

Philadalphia Fed Index for April and the

initial jobless claims report are slated for release today. Economists consider the Philly Fed to be a good indicator of what to expect from the

Purchasing Managers' Index, which is due out May 1. The claims report should give us the skinny on labor market conditions. Both indicators have the potential to move markets.

Economic Data

(

Forecasts are from

Reuters

. Times are Eastern. For a longer-term economic calendar and more, see

TSC's

Economic Databank.

)

  • 8:30 a.m.: Initial Jobless Claims for the week ended April 14. Source: Labor Department. Forecast: 387,000. Previous: 392,000. Four-week average Forecast: n.a. Previous: 380,500.
  • 10 a.m.: Philadelphia Fed Index for April. Source: Philadelphia Fed. Forecast: -18.7. Previous: -23.5.
  • 11 a.m.: Treasury buyback. Source: Bureau of the Public Debt. The Treasury buys securities specified yesterday from dealers.
  • 2 p.m.: Federal Budget for March FY '01. Source: Treasury Department. Forecast: -$33.73B. Previous: -$48.17B (March FY '00.)