Lately a wallflower, Wal-Mart ( WMT) was the Street's belle of the ball again on Thursday, Oct. 11, when it boosted its earnings estimate to lead the Dow in a morning rally . The shine was off the apple by afternoon when a collapse in tech stock prices beat back the advance and sent the Dow into negative territory. Wal-Mart, however, retained the gain. Ford and GM UAW capitulation in contract negotiations with Chrysler sent Ford ( F) and GM ( GM) up last week -- it's a direction those stocks have become remarkably unfamiliar with in recent months. Details on the U.S. auto sector's story of woe can be found in the Sept. 24-28th Week in Review . Credit Markets Subprime's sub-zero chill on the credit markets seemed to be thawing, with many analysts believing the beginning of the end of the crisis is upon us. Others think this may be merely the end of the beginning and point to stories such as the lead in Thursday, Oct. 11th's Wall Street Journal. The article makes the case that the subprime mortgage fiasco is much broader and deeper than previously imagined. But market participants put thoughts of economic Armageddon aside to focus on their favorite pastime -- pouncing on company earnings . Earnings Season Earnings season brings not flowers, young love or turning leaves to lower Manhattan -- although these seasonal events most certainly occur. Rather, earnings season delivers throngs of traders listening carefully on conference calls to decide which companies offer the best earnings. This is followed by a frenzy of buying and selling. They're a lot like children on Halloween. Just as costumed kiddies flock to the house with the most candy thanking their benefactors profusely for their sweets, so do Wall Street traders shower companies with adoration in the form of higher stock prices for reporting a positive earnings story. Like the house with no treats, companies with negative earnings stories get their trees toilet-papered and their mail boxes kicked over. Such is life in the jungle.