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Earnings Provides This October Surprise

Dollar rallies for fifth day, stocks drop for fourth day. Economic data and earnings guidance disappoint.

October is turning out to be a challenging month for economic stats. Yesterday it was weaker than expected Consumer Confidence.

Today the housing news is poor. New home sales for October, as well as the September revisions, were below expectations. New home sales are now at a 3-month low.

Also, the Mortgage Bankers Association reported the third straight weekly drop in applications to purchase homes, though 30-year mortgage rates have remained steady at around 5 percent.

This as efforts are underway to extend the first time homebuyer tax credit.

Elsewhere, earnings guidance indicates that demand across many sectors remains weak:

1) Goodyear Tire said its North American division's operating income will be lower in the fourth quarter than it was in the third quarter;

2) Coal giant Massey said coal demand remained weak;

3) Wynn Resorts yesterday gave a very cautious outlook on Las Vegas

Still, one good consumer bellweather — Visa beat expectations for its fourth quarter and gave good guidance: EPS growth of 20 percent in FY 2010 and 2011. More importantly, payment volumes increased 3 percent for the quarter, compared with declines of 3 percent in the third quarter and 2 percent in the second quarter. Management increased its 2010 operating margin guidance as well.

Visa up 3 percent to a 52-week high.

Finally, financials are under pressure again as all this talk in Washington on regulation is putting pressure on the group.

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