NEW YORK (
) -- Here are the top stock market headlines for the morning of Friday, April 23, 2010.
Friday's Early Headlines
- Greece Formally Asks for Aid -- Greece formally asked for the activation of a joint eurozone-International Monetary Fund rescue package. Prime Minister George Papandreou made the announcement asking for the activation of the plan Friday morning. The rescue package will provide Greece with loans from other eurozone countries of 30 billion euros at interest rates of about 5% and about 10 billion euros from the IMF, The Associated Press reports.
- Durable Goods Orders Fall -- The Census Bureau said orders for durable goods unexpectedly fell 1.3% in March after a revised 1.1% increase in February. Economists were looking for the headline number to tick 0.1% higher. Excluding autos, durable goods orders were up 2.8%, which surpassed the consensus target of a 0.7% rise. The durable goods report will be followed at 10 a.m. EDT by the March read on new home sales.
- SEC Staffers Watched Porn as Financial System Crumbled: Report -- Securities and Exchange Commission Inspector General David Kotz wrote in a memo that a probe found that senior staffers at the agency spent hours surfing pornographic websites on government-issued computers while they were being paid to police the financial system, according to a report by The Associated Press. The memo says 31 of 33 probes occurred in the 2 .5 years since the financial system teetered and nearly crashed, according to the report.
- Senate Reveals Rating Agencies' Conflict Over Investment Products -- Reuters reports that a probe by a U.S. Senate panel reveals emails in which credit rating agencies show conflict over investment products related to subprime mortgages, which are part of the government's lawsuit against Goldman Sachs (GS) - Get Report. The U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations found that Wall Street influence and an insatiable thirst for profits drove credit raters to inflate ratings on subprime mortgage-related products, the report said.
- Sears Ups Stake in Canada -- Sears Holdings (SHLD) said it expects first-quarter earnings in the range of break-even to 31 cents a share, while analysts are calling for a profit of 4 cents. Same-store sales for the quarter-to-date are up 1.7%, increasing 3.2% at Kmart and rising 0.7% at Sears. Separately, Sears also announced that it is upping its stake in Sears Canada. It signed a deal to buy about 18.7 million shares, or 17% of outstanding stock, from William Ackman's Pershing Square for $30 Canadian dollars a share.
Friday's Earnings Roundup
- Microsoft (MSFT) - Get Report late Thursday reported a third-quarter profit of 45 cents a share, which was 3 cents better than the Thomson Reuters average estimate. Revenue was up 6.2% from a year ago to $14.5 billion, slightly above consensus. Microsoft also offered operating expense guidance of $26.1 billion to $26.3 billion for its 2010 fiscal year, which is down slightly from its previous guidance for expenses of $26.2 billion to $26.5 billion.
- Amazon.com (AMZN) - Get Report reported a first-quarter profit of 66 cents a share on sales of $7.13 billion, topping Wall Street's expectations of 61 cents a share and revenue of $6.87 billion. However, the low end of Amazon's second-quarter revenue guidance range was $6.1 billion, which would fall below the average analyst target of $6.4 billion, sending shares lower in Friday's session.
- The Travelers Companies (TRV) - Get Report notched a first-quarter profit of $1.22 a share, which was below the Thomson Reuters average estimate of $1.36 a share. Travelers reaffirmed its full-year earnings guidance of $5.20 to $5.55 a share, although that's below the consensus target of $5.73.
- Schlumberger (SLB) - Get Report said it had first-quarter earnings of 62 cents a share, which was a penny better than estimates. Revenue was down 2.4% to $5.6 billion, slightly below consensus targets. "I am pleased to report I was mistaken. International margins appear to have bottomed and are now likely to resume a positive trend--absent any exceptional circumstances," Chairman and CEO Andrew Gould said in a statement.
- Honeywell (HON) - Get Report posted a first-quarter profit of 50 cents a share, above the 47-cent-a-share Wall Street target. Revenue rose 2.7% to $7.78 billion, also better than analysts had predicted. Looking ahead, Honeywell offered in-line earnings and revenue guidance for 2010.
-- Written by Robert Holmes in Boston
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