An updated report on the U.S. economy in the third quarter, released this week by the Commerce Department, showed gross domestic product shrank at a 0.5 percent annual rate. That was worse than the 0.3 percent rate of decline first reported a month ago.
There were some signs of hope this week.
SAP co-CEO Leo Apotheker, when pressed last Friday at a New York conference about how the business climate has been, declined to provide specific guidance but allowed that "things haven't gotten worse" from last month. SAP caused a stir in the financial community when it scrapped its 2009 financial forecast a few weeks ago.
HP Monday said that revenue for its fourth fiscal quarter, ended Oct. 31, including gains from its acquisition of EDS, rose 19 percent to $33.6 billion, and that excluding special, one-time charges, earnings grew 13 percent to $2.6 billion.
Even this good news comes with caveats. Eliminating the effect of foreign exchange rates and excluding EDS from the results, a comparison to last year would have HP sales increasing by only about 2 percent. And Apotheker's vague comment may simply mean that things couldn't have gotten much worse.