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Microsoft to layoff 18,000; Barbie sales weigh on Mattel earnings; June housing starts

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Microsoft (MSFT) announced this morning it will cut 18,000 jobs over the next year. The layoffs are far more than the 5,000 jobs cuts in 2009, the only other company-wide job cuts in the company’s history. The announcement came the week after CEO Satya Nadella’s 3,100-word memo to employees laying out his vision for Microsoft.

Two pieces of economic data were released this morning. U.S. home construction fell sharply in June, down 9.3% to 893,000 according to the Commerce Department. It was the lowest number since September 2013, and its second straight monthly decline. Economists were actually expecting an increase of housing starts in June to more than 1 million. Separately, the Labor Department said initial jobless claims fell 3,000 last week to 302,000. Economists expected claims to rise to 310,000. The four-week average declined by 3,000 as well, to 309,000.

General Motors (GM) CEO Mary Barra heads back to Capitol Hill today for her fourth appearance before lawmakers. Barra will testify before the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety and Insurance on why GM waited years to recall vehicles with a defective ignition switch that led to at least 13 deaths. GM's legal department will also face questioning out how it mishandled the recall.

Mattel (MAT), the world's largest toymaker, missed on both earnings and revenue, and had its third straight decline in quarterly sales. Barbie sales fell 15% compared to the same quarter last year. Sales in its Fisher-Price line also fell. A bright spot was sales of its American Girl line which rose 6%.