Steve Ballmer and the stock rally no CEO wants as his legacy
Recapping the day's news and newsmakers through the lens of CNBC.
And don't let the door hit you on the way out
It's every executive's nightmare: you announce you're leaving and the stock jumps. It happened Friday to Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. Early Friday he announced he will step down within 12 months. Microsoft shares finished up more than 7 percent. Why no wailing and tearing of hair? Well, Ballmer is respected, but Microsoft has lost its industry dominance on his watch. The firm has been sluggish to shift to mobile, and is now working to catch up.
So who will run Microsoft next? Maybe not who you think.
"There is never a perfect time for this type of transition, but now is the right time. ... We need a CEO who will be here longer term for this new direction."
What, me worry?
Nasdaq's three-hour tour through trading oblivion Thursday sparked a finger-pointing binge Friday. Most notably, Nasdaq-OMX CEO Robert Greifeld insisted the trading halt wasn't caused by anything wrong with Nasdaq, but was due to contagion from some unspecified outside entity. (Queue eerie music.)
The halt, he said, was meant to keep any group of traders from getting an advantage over others, but savvy players got around the halt by trading Nasdaq-100 futures. Critics, and there were lots, said Nasdaq compounded the problem by staying mum during the freeze.
"We all have to be aware of the other person not acting always in the proper way. ... It's not our job, nor will it be, to go .... to the press and the public while we focus on the issue."
—Nasdaq CEO Robert Greifeld
—investor Doug Kass at Seabreeze Partners
"How can Greifeld say they halted things to help the retail investor but then didn't communicate to the press. WRONG WRONG WRONG!"
—CNBC's Jim Cramer
This time housing data really does disappoint
Believers in a housing rebound got a shock Friday, with news that sales of new single-family homes plunged 13.4 percent in July to the lowest level in nine months. To rub salt into the wound, the Commerce Department slashed its figure for June. One explanation: private equity funds and other investors have bolstered the existing-home market, but are not as deeply involved with new homes.
"This is an awful number. ...You know, the mortgage applications and existing home sales have been diverging, with existing home sales doing well and mortgage applications doing poorly. Everybody's been looking for something to figure out what's going to give in this market, and this could be the clue."
—Jim Iuorio, managing director TJM Institutional Services
One, two ... three percent bond yield
How long 'til the 10-year yields 3 percent? Does it matter? Yes, if the tapering watchers are to be believed. The 10-year Treasury note now yields a tad over 2.8 percent and went above 2.93 percent this week, its highest since July 2011. A move to 3 percent seems like a distinction without a difference.
But 3 percent is a psychological barrier that may convince the markets that interest rates are really, truly, going significantly higher—and this time we mean it! Some analysts say 3 percent could come in the next two weeks, and Barclays now says the rate will hit 3.75 percent in a little over a year. Still, some naysayers think an economic slowdown will reverse the process.
"For it to roll through 3 percent will require a catalyst event. … I think the key test will be Sept. 6 payroll data—if that is strong then we coast through 3 percent and up."
—Bill Blain, senior fixed-income broker at Mint Partners
"The combination of depressed participation rates and weak 'real growth,' plus Obamacare and bad jobs, leads our models to predict a big reversal on the recent trends, with ... new lows in yields."
—Saxo Bank Chief Economist Steen Jakobsen
An entire industry shuts down
Business people try to prepare for all the things that could go wrong, but even precautions against the most obvious risks don't always work. That's the case with the Los Angeles area's multibillion-dollar adult film industry, which halted production when an actress tested positive for HIV.
Filming will not resume until all of Cameron Bay's partners are tested. The industry has been resistant to a new county law requiring condom use during filming.
"As difficult as this news is for me today, I am hopeful that no other performers have been affected. I plan on doing everything possible to assist the medical professionals and my fellow performers."
—Porn actress Cameron Bay
—By Jeff Brown, Special to CNBC.com