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With our investment news briefs, Money Morning provides investors with a quick overview of the most important investing news stories from all around the world.

Senate Nixes Quick Healthcare Vote; Falling PC Sales Hurt Microsoft's Bottom Lines; Jobless Claims Rise; Deutsche Raises Apple Outlook on iPhone Sales; Economist: Housing Market Has Hit Bottom; AT&T Profit Falls 15%; McDonald's Profit Down; 3M Beats Expectations

  • Senate Democratic leaders late yesterday (Thursday) abandoned plans for an overhaul of the nation's $2.4 trillion healthcare system before Congress recesses in August – dealing U.S. President Barack Obama a major political blow. The decision was delivered by U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., who said that "it's better to have a product based on quality and thoughtfulness rather than try to jam something through." The decision to reject President Obama's ambitious timetable – he wanted a vote on the plan before Congress adjourned – had been anticipated for weeks. Sen. Reid's comments mirrored those of Republicans, who feared the implications of a quick vote on such a politically charged issue.
  • Sagging worldwide PC and server sales resulted in a 17% revenue decline and a 29% drop in Microsoft Corp.'s (Nasdaq: MSFT) fourth quarter ended June 30. The company reported a net income of $3.05 billion, or 34 cents per share on revenue of $13.1 billion, compared to a net income of $4.29 billion, or 46 cents per share on revenue of $15.83 in the same quarter last year. For the year, the software giant posted a net income of $14.56 billion, or $1.63 a share on revenue of $58.43 billion, compared to a net income of $17.68 billion, or $1.90 per share on revenue of $60.42 billion in the same quarter last year.
  • Initial unemployment benefit claims in the United States grew by 30,000 to 554,000 for the week ended July 18, according to the Department of Labor. However, the less volatile four-week moving average shrank, falling by 19,000 to 566,000. "The numbers have come down but they still have a ways to go down before the bleeding of jobs is over," said Andrew Gretzinger, a senior economist at MFC Global Investment Management in a Bloomberg News interview. "The labor market is still weak and is going to remain that for some time to come."
  • Deutsche Bank AG (NYSE: DB) has raised its target for Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) from $150 to $225 following its strong second quarter showing and impressive iPhone sales. Apple moved 5.2 million units of its lucrative iPhone, exceeding Deutsche's projection of 5 million. Deutsche estimates iPhone margins to be roughly 60%. Another reason for Deutsche's optimism regarding Apple is it expects the iPhone's international reach to expand from 18 to 80 countries by the end of the September quarter, with a possible partnership with China Unicom Limited (NYSE ADR: CHU) as early as this fall, representing the iPhone's debut in the emerging market.
  • Existing home sales in June rose by 3.6% to a 4.89 million annual rate from a revised 4.72 million in May, when the number rose by 2.4% according to the National Association of Realtors. "Housing may no longer be the weakest link," said Joel Naroff, president and chief economist at Naroff Economic Advisors Inc. "Demand has clawed itself back to where it was a year ago, a very nice signal that the market has not only hit bottom but is making its way back." In another sign the housing market may be on the upswing, rates on fixed-rate mortgages increased this week to 5.20%, up from 5.14% last week, Freddie Mac (NYSE: FRE) Vice President and Chief Economist Frank Nothaft said in a prepared statement.
  • Increasing landline cancellations and heavy iPhone subsidies contributed to a 15% drop in profit for AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T). The company reported a net income of $3.2 billion, or 54 cents a share on revenue of $30.73 billion for the quarter ended June 30. That compares to a net income of $3.8 billion, or 64 cents a share on revenue of $30.86 in the same quarter last year. The company did benefit from the new iPhone model released last month, activating 2.4 million accounts for the smartphone in the United States.
  • Rising customer traffic and operating income could not help McDonald's Corp.'s (NYSE: MCD) profit, which fell 8.1% in the second quarter due to currency fluctuations, the company said. The fast-food chain posted a net income of $1.09 billion, or 98 cents a share on revenue of $5.65 billion for the quarter ended June 30. That compares to a net income of $1.19 billion, or $1.04 a share on revenue of $6.08 billion in the same period last year.
  • 3M Co. (NYSE: MMM) suffered an 18% drop in its profit, but beat expectations due to stronger demand for electronic healthcare products in its second quarter ended June 30. The conglomerate posted a profit of $783 million, or $1.12 a share on revenue of $5.7 billion, compared to a net income of $945 million, or $1.33 a share on revenue of $6.7 billion in the same quarter last year.

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