Microsoft gets business boost

Microsoft surprised Wall Street with better-than-expected profits, but its shares stayed flat as investors worried about the weakness of computer sales amid a faltering US recovery.

It reported second-quarter profits of $6.63bn (£4.17bn) compared with $6.66bn a year earlier. Sales rose five per cent to $19.95bn, helped by strong sales of its Kinect hands-free gaming system.

Sales of its core Office application rose 24 per cent, indicating that US businesses are starting to spend more on technology after the recession. Its shares were down slightly in after-hours trading