Markets Sink, Earnings Slip, AOL’s New Scheme, Home Sales Lag: Market Recap

As if toasting the past, markets sank today on Wall Street:

S&P 500: -1.64%Nasdaq: -2.19%Dow: -1.52%, Oil: -2.21%Gold: -1.27%.

On the commodities front, Oil (NYSE:USO) dropped to $90.06 per barrel. Precious metals were down, with Gold (NYSE:GLD) dropping to $1,723.20 per ounce, and Silver (NYSE:SLV) falling to $32.12 per ounce toward the close.

Here’s your Cheat Sheet to today’s top stock stories:

It was a big day for earnings.

Currency fluctuations and slow growth in same-store sales pushed McDonald’s (NYSE:MCD) third-quarter earnings down 3.5 percent, missing Wall Street’s expectations. Shares of the world’s largest hamburger chain closed down 4.43 percent. Read our McDonald’s Earnings Report.

General Electric (NYSE:GE) posted third-quarter earnings before the bell. Some figures attracting attention are an 8.3 percent rise in net income and a 2.8 percent increase in revenue — growth that fell short of analyst estimates. Shares closed down 3.51 percent. Read our General Electric Earnings Report.

Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) posted earnings for its first quarter for the fiscal year 2013 that missed expectations and drove share prices to close down 2.9 percent. Overall revenues were down 7.8 percent to $16.01 billion, fueled by Microsoft’s Windows division, which reported a sales decrease of 33 percent for the quarter. Read our Microsoft Earnings Report.

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YahooBy the end of the year, Yahoo (NASDAQ:YHOO) will be shutting down its South Korean web portal and Internet advertising business. Mobile adoption and local Korean competition, coupled with restructuring efforts back home, are likely to blame for the decline of Yahoo Korea.

In the never-ending race to stay relevant in the Internet industry, AOL (NYSE:AOL) has been mired in the middle-to-the-back of the pack for a while now. But the company may have just caught a fresh wind that could propel it up towards the leaders like Google, Facebook (NASDAQ:FB), and Yahoo. It’s called Alto, and AOL hopes the new cloud-based email management system will start grabbing some much-needed headlines.

The National Association of Realtors released existing-home sales numbers for September. August sales were revised up to an annual rate of 4.83 million, meaning September’s annual rate of 4.75 million reflects a decrease of 1.7 percent. September 2012 sales are 11 percent higher than the pace for September 2011. (More.)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed some doubts that Europe would be able to establish a central bank supervisor for the region before the end of the year, a deadline policymakers set themselves on Friday. Germany has maintained that the zone needs to iron out all issues before establishing the entity that was envisioned with the aim of slowing down the region’s debt crisis. (More.)

Investing Insights: General Electric: Competitors Must Watch These Earnings Drivers.