July 21 - Summary of business headlines: France’s Sarkozy says Greek bailout “a historical turning point”; Microsoft tops Wall Street view; AT&T beats despite losing iPhone exclusivity; Mid-Atlantic business picks up, but jobless claims remain worrisome; Stocks rally in U.S. and Europe. Conway G. Gittens reports.
European officials finally hammered out a deal on a second Greek debt bailout and a plan to prevent the debt crisis from spreading further and keep the euro zone together. French President Nicolas Sarkozy: SOUNDBITE: FRENCH PRESIDENT NICOLAS SARKOZY (FRENCH WITH ENGLISH TRANSLATION) SAYING: "There is a historical turning point with the decision we are taking. Which concrete decision has been taken to support Greece and to defend the euro? First we agreed to create the start of a full European Monetary Fund. And the European mechanism that we created a few months ago, we have have taken the decision to give more strength and flexibility." In earnings news, Microsoft continues the string of tech companies to exceed forecasts. Profits surged 30 percent and sales were up 8 percent. The company says business demand remains strong "across all of our products", but the results show sales of its flagship Windows software are being hurt by sluggish demand for personal computers. Meanwhile, quarterly results out of AT&T, the No. 2 U.S. mobile service provider, topped analysts' targets thanks to a jump in new subscribers, despite the loss of its exclusive hold on the Apple iPhone. The results were overshadowed by a key lawmaker urging regulators to block AT&T's $39 billion purchase of T-Mobile USA. On the economic front: business activity in the mid-Atlantic region rebounded from a near two-year low in July. Unemployment, however, remains problematic. Jobless claims was stuck above 400,000 - a level associated with weak hiring - for week number 15. But Wall Street was more relieved about the new Greek debt bailout, encouraging a triple-digit rally for the Dow. European investors were also encouraged, giving stock markets a boost across the board. Conway Gittens, Reuters