FILE - In this Thursday, Oct. 18, 2012, file photo, traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. World stock markets fell Friday as disappointing U.S. corporate earnings provided a reason to book profits on recent gains while investors waited for a progress report from European leaders concluding a summit on the region's debt crisis. Wall Street also looks set to retreat. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)
Updated: October 19, 2012 12:46PM
NEW YORK — Poor earnings reports from three companies in the Dow Jones industrial average — Microsoft, General Electric and McDonalds — sent indexes down sharply Friday, marking a sour end to an otherwise strong week in the stock market.
McDonald’s led a broad drop in the Dow, falling 3 percent. The Dow was down 151 points at 13,397 shortly after noon.
“I’m concerned about corporate earnings, but I’m not alarmed yet,” said Doug Cote, chief market strategist at ING Investment Management in New York.
Cote cautions that it’s still early in reporting season, but what’s worrying is that companies have reported an overall drop in earnings so far. “And once you get one quarter of negative earnings, it’s a precursor,” he said. “It’s the cockroach theory: if you find one, there’s probably many more.”
The Standard & Poor’s 500 sank 17 points to 1,440 and the Nasdaq composite dropped 52 points to 3,020. All 10 industry groups in the S&P 500 fell, led by materials and technology stocks.
McDonald’s profit sank as a strong dollar hurt international results, which account for two-thirds of its business. The fast-food giant’s stock lost $3.51 to $89.35.
Microsoft’s income fell 22 percent as PC sales took a dive and as troubles in Europe took their toll. Its stock lost 67 cents to $28.82.
General Electric, another economic bellwether, fell 3 percent. The company reported stronger profits early Friday but its revenue missed Wall Street’s expectations. Orders for new equipment and services sank, mainly because wind turbine orders have fallen because a key U.S. federal subsidy for wind power expires at the end of the year.
GE’s stock lost 60 cents to $22.21.
Analysts currently expect companies in the S&P 500 to post their worst earnings results since the third quarter of 2009, according to S&P Capital IQ. Banks and consumer discretionary companies are projected to report the best growth. Analysts expect companies dealing in metals and other materials to report the worst results, followed by energy companies.
But it’s technology companies like IBM, Intel and Google whose weak results have grabbed the most attention so far.
Weak earnings from Google and a rise in claims for unemployment benefits helped pull the stock market lower Thursday. That snapped a four-day run of gains for the Dow. Google fell again Friday, giving up $14.14 to $680.86.
The Dow is still up 0.6 percent for the week. The S&P 500 up is up 0.8 percent.
In other Friday trading, the yield on the 10-year Treasury note slipped to 1.77 percent from 1.83 percent late Thursday.
Among other stocks making big moves, Chipotle Mexican Grill plunged 14 percent after the burrito chain forecast that revenue growth would slow sharply next year. The stock had been a favorite among investors thanks to super-fast growth in recent years. The stock fell $41.32 to $244.61.