On Tuesday, third quarter revenue was posted by Oracle Corp (NYSE:ORCL). Unfortunately, the business software maker posted flat revenue as well as slightly lower profit. This came as a result of a stronger U.S. dollar (USD). On the upside though, Oracle did raise its quarterly dividend to fifteen cents a share, up 25%. With the release of these results, the shares of Oracle initially declined yet they then recovered and rose in after-hours trading to trade at $43.20, up 3.3%. Oracle shares are considered to be a barometer for the technology sector. In their earnings report, Oracle reported sales of $9.3 billion which matched sales a year ago. According to the database company, their revenue for the fiscal 3rd-quarter would have increased by 6% however the strengthening greenback negatively impacted the end results. Analysts had forecast revenue of $9.46 billion. Meanwhile, Oracle has definitely advanced on the cloud front and the company reported that revenue for its platform service and cloud-computing software had risen to $372 million, up 30%. The company is currently trying to migrate its business to an internet-enabled and remote model. In terms of net profit, this declined from $2.56 billion in the same quarter a year ago to $2.49 billion while profit per share was unchanged at 56 cents.
Investors are waiting in anticipation for the minutes of the meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee which is expected out today. The big question is whether the central bank will remove the word ‘patient’ from their statement which will be a clear indication that interest rate hikes could take place as early as June this year. As a result, on Tuesday, U.S. stocks ended the volatile trading session broadly lower with the Dow Jones posting a loss of triple-digits. At the close of trading, the DJIA (Dow Jones Industrial Average) declined 0.7%, or 128.34 points, to 17,849.08. Twenty five of the blue chip index’s 30 members posted losses. Also declining was the S&P 500 index (SPX) which dropped 0.3%, or 6.99 points, to 2,074.20, with 9 of the ten main sectors finishing lower. Thanks to an increase of 1.7% in the Apple Inc. (AAPL, +0.09%) share price, the Nasdaq Composite Index (COMP) defied the downward trend and advanced 0.2%, or 7.93 points, at 4,937.43.
With all eyes on the Federal Reserve’s policy statement today, the U.S. dollar (USD) managed to advance against most major currencies on Tuesday. In their report, the Commerce Department in the U.S. reported that housing starts declined by 17.0 percent in February to 897,000 units. This was down from a total of 1.081 million units in January and also missed expectations for a decline to 1.049 million, down 2.4 percent. Data also showed that building permits issued in February increased to 1.092 million units, up 3.0%. The total in January was 1.060 million while analysts forecast building permits to decline to 1.065 million units in February, down 0.5 percent. In forex trading, the EUR/USD traded at 1.0604, up 0.35% while the greenback traded steady against the Japanese yen at 121.30. Against the British pound and the Swiss franc the USD traded mixed with USD/CHF down 0.35% to 1.0039 and with GBP/USD down 0.64 percent to trade at 1.4735.
In commodities trading on Wednesday, the price of Brent crude declined moving closer to trade at $53 a barrel. By 0108 GMT, Brent crude oil for delivery in May traded at $53.27 a barrel, down 24 cents. On Tuesday, the commodity ended the session at $53.51 a barrel, up 7 cents. Meanwhile, U.S. crude oil for delivery in April also dropped to trade at $42.44 a barrel, down $1.02 in early Asian trade on Wednesday. On Tuesday, U.S. crude traded at $43.46 a barrel, down 42 cents. This came in response to inventory data released on Tuesday from the American Petroleum Institute which showed that crude oil inventories increased in the week to 13 March by 10.5 million barrels, to 450 million.