Updated from 4:26 p.m. EDT

All's Well After Hours

( At 5:10 p.m. EDT)

American Express ( AXP) posted a first-quarter continuing operations profit of $443 million, or 32 cents a share. That was far below last year's $1 billion and 89 cents a share, and revenue sank 18%.

Let's face it, we're not seeing a lot of companies grow earnings year over year these days. Again, the whole recession thing.

The total provision for losses jumped 49% to $1.8 billion. The charge-off rate rose, too, but those numbers have been out for a few days. However, the company said it's planning for writeoff rates to increase for the next couple of quarters.

Any good news? Sure. AmEx easily got past estimates that called for earnings of 12 cents a share. The stock was up 5.4% in late trading to $22.10. In the regular session, they were better by 7.9% to $20.97, the best performance on the Dow Jones Industrial Average.

The other DJIA stock with news after the bell -- Microsoft ( MSFT) -- was gaining 4.1% to $19.70 following the close, even though it wasn't perfect, either.

By the way, I hope you spent this day doing something useful, as I suggested. Once again, you only needed the final minutes. At the end of trading, the Dow was up 70.49 points, or 0.9%, to 7957.06, good for its fifth advance in seven days.

Mixed Showing From Microsoft

( At 4:12 p.m. EDT)

Looks like Microsoft ( MSFT) met analysts' profit estimates for the fiscal third quarter. The company earned 33 cents a share, but if you exclude charges that totaled 6 cents, the results would have matched Wall Street's consensus of 39 cents.

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