S&P mini futures fell as much as 0.7 percent to 1,931.75, slipping from two-week highs hit the previous day on budding optimism on corporate earnings and the global economy. "Just when markets got some relief on the world economy, we had this news.
Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) reported higher-than-expected quarterly revenue, helped by stronger sales of its phones, Surface tablets and cloud-computing products for companies, while keeping its profit margins largely intact. The results on Thursday allayed fears of investors in recent days that the industry shift toward lower-margin cloud services was proving hard for established technology leaders to master. Microsoft shares, which have climbed 33 percent over the past year, rose another 3 percent in after-hours trading to $46.36. "In light of recent negative earnings results from tech bellwethers Oracle, IBM, SAP, VMware, and EMC, Microsoft is bucking the trend and we would label these September results as a solid accomplishment," said Daniel Ives, an analyst at FBR Capital Markets.
The soft global inflation backdrop, from sliding oil prices to stagnant wages in advanced economies, has triggered debate over whether the Fed and its peers merely need to wait for a slow-motion business cycle to improve, or face a shift in the underlying nature of inflation after the global recession. The Fed is expected to take note of recent market turmoil and worsened world conditions at its Oct 28-29 meeting even as it ends the bond-buying program launched to fight the financial crisis. Yet if the Fed keeps struggling getting inflation back to its 2 percent goal it could prompt a deeper rethinking of its approach. Now, its glacial movement during the recovery suggests something basic may have changed, San Francisco Fed President John Williams told Reuters last week.