Stocks Turn Defensive; Microsoft and McDonalds Quarterly Results Beat Expectations

Stocks were set to open lower on Friday in spite of positive results from Dow component stocks McDonalds (MCD) and Microsoft (MSFT) as investors lighten up positions before the weekend, and ahead of today’s speeches by Fed Governor Daniel Tarullo and San Francisco President John Williams.

After the close on Thursday, Microsoft reported better-than-expected revenue and earnings, bolstered by gains in the company’s cloud computing business. As a result, the stock is expected to open at a record high. McDonalds beat top and bottom-line estimates and reported a 3.5% gain in comparable store sales, while PayPal (PYPL) shares were higher in pre-market following its latest quarterly results that included an increase in Q4 revenue guidance and three-year outlook.

With the Fed unlikely to adjust monetary policy until December, and Q3 earnings about to hit full stride next week, the benchmark averages will likely remain wedged in an increasingly narrow range that was established the first week of September. This range-bound mentality will be exacerbated by a dearth of economic data Friday coupled with next week’s heavy economic calendar.

Related markets are mixed with gold trading slightly lower, the dollar stronger against all the major currencies except the yen, and Treasury yields lower in the long end of the curve, but higher for shorter-dated securities.