Microsoft’s Exec Shakeup, Earnings, and Vodafone Struggles: Afternoon Buzzers

After closing relatively flat on Monday, U.S. stock markets edged slightly lower Tuesday afternoon, then bounced back to a flatline. Concerns could be aggravated by delay and disagreement by creditors surrounding Greece’s financial recovery.

Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) was off nearly 2.86 percent in afternoon market trading after Steven Sinofsky, head of the Windows unit and possible CEO candidate, leaves the company. Neither Microsoft or Mr. Sinofsky have given a reason, but the shakeup is unsettling given his role in Windows 8.

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The Home Depot (NYSE:HD) is riding about 4.20 percent higher in afternoon market trading after releasing third-quarter results. Revenue rose 4.5 percent to $18.1 billion from a year ago, while net income rose 1.4 percent to $0.63 per share. This is the third consecutive quarter of income growth for the company.

Shares of The TJX Companies (NYSE:TJX) aren’t attracting a lot of attention after third-quarter results that were positive but in line. Net sales rose 11 percent to $6.4 billion, with comparable store sales up 7 percent. Net income grew 17 percent to $0.62 per share.

Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZannounced that it will pay out $8.5 billion in dividends to owners by December 31, following up on about $10 billion given out last year.

Vodafone Group (NASDAQ:VOD), a 45 percent owner of Verizon Wireless, was off about 2.50 percent in afternoon market trading after posting results for the six months ended September 30. Group revenue dropped about 7.4 percent, pointedly lead by losses in Southern Europe. Vodafone will be using some of its 2.5 billion euro ($3.1 billion) dividend from Verizon Wireless for a 1.5 billion euro ($1.9 billion) share buyback.

With seven weeks to go before the fiscal cliff, Congress is slated to return to work Tuesday. All eyes will be on President Barack Obama and leaders from both parties, and hopes will be high that a solution can be agreed to in time.

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