The news offsets a worse-than-expected report on new-home sales. Oracle shares surge. Investors wait for the Fed.
Updated at 1:30 p.m. ET
Investors concentrated on a surprisingly favorable report on durable goods and a more optimistic outlook about the global economy from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, dismissing a disappointing new-home sales report that showed a 0.6% drop in May.
Stocks were rising ahead of this aftenoon's statement on interest rates from the Federal Reserve. At 1:30 p.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average ($DJIA) was up 57 points to 8,380. The Nasdaq Composite Index ($COMPX) had gained 38 points to 1,803, and the Standard & Poor's 500 Index ($INX) had added 12 points to 907.
Crude oil fell 59 cents to $68.55 a barrel this afternoon. The Energy Information Administration said oil supplies fell by 3.8 million barrels last week, more than analysts had expected. Gasoline inventories jumped by 3.9 million barrels, well above the expected 1 million increase. Distillate inventories rose by 2.1 million barrels.
The AAA forecasts a 1.9% drop in the number of Americans who plan to travel this July 4 holiday weekend.
The software maker tops Wall Street's estimate.
Updated at 5 p.m. ET
Oracle (ORCL) late Tuesday said it earned $1.9 billion, or 38 cents per share, in its fiscal fourth quarter, a 5% drop from the $2 billion, or 39 cents per share, it earned in the same period last year. Excluding charges, Oracle said it earned 46 cents per share, 2 cents ahead of analysts' expectations.
Revenue also fell 5%, to $6.9 billion, beating the Street's estimate of $6.5 billion.
In a statement, President Safra Catz said the company's results were "an amazing achievement given what's been happening in the global economy over the past 12 months."
But the chain restaurant operator warns for the full year.
Updated at 5 p.m. ET
Americans haven't been eating out as much during this recession, but they were visiting Darden Restaurants' (DRI) chains in its most recent quarter.
The operator of the Red Lobster, Olive Garden, The Capital Grille and LongHorn Steakhouse chains said it earned $123 million, or 87 cents per share in its fiscal fourth quarter, up from $101.8 million, or 71 cents per share, in the same quarter last year. Excluding items, Darden earned 90 cents per share, beating expectations by 4 cents.
Revenue rose 8% to $1.97 billion.
But shares of the company fell $1.06, or 3.2%, to $31.94 today after the company said fiscal 2010 earnings will be down 2% to 8%, or $2.59 to $2.85 per share.
The company will also buy back stock.
Updated at 5 p.m. ET
Shares of PetSmart (PETM) were up 82 cents, or 4.1%, to $20.80 today after the pet-supplies retailer late Tuesday said it is raising its quarterly dividend by 233% to 10 cents per share from 3 cents per share.
The company also approved a $350 million share-buyback program over the next 2 1/2 years.
"We are confident that these actions will allow us to react quickly in this ever-changing retail environment," Bob Moran, president and CEO of the company, said in a statement.
As Wall Street awaits commentary from the Fed, premarket futures indicate a higher opening this morning.
By Elizabeth Trotta, TheStreet.com
Premarket futures indicated a higher open for stocks in New York on Wednesday ahead of another round of economic data and the resolve of the latest two-day Federal Reserve policy-making meeting.
Futures for the S&P 500 were higher by 3.6 points at 893.80, and were 3.14 points above fair value. Futures on the Nasdaq were rising 4 points to 1428, and were 4.95 points above fair value.
The major indices were little moved in either direction Tuesday as investors awaited Wednesday's post-meeting commentary from the Federal Open Market Committee. Although the Fed isn't expected to change its record-low key interest rate, Wall Street will be watching for any changes in its view of the economy or in the measures its taking to deal with the economic downturn. The Fed's commentary will be available at 2:15 p.m. EDT.
Wall Street also will have an eye out for a new slate of economic data, including durable goods orders at 8:30 a.m., new home sales at 10 a.m., and crude oil inventories at 10:15 a.m.
But stocks see only modest losses overall. Existing-home sales disappoint. Oracle earnings cheer traders.
Updated at 6:10 p.m. ET.
Stocks struggled today, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average ($INDU) suffering its sixth loss in the last seven days.
The declines, however, were modest at worst. The market appears headed for a flat open on Wednesday.
Traders will be waiting to see what the Federal Reserve has to say about interest rates and inflation after its Federal Open Market Committee meeting ends. An announcement should come at 2:15 p.m. ET Wednesday.
The market did see strength in financial and energy stocks -- two groups that were hit hard on Monday when the Dow fell 201 points -- and better-than-expected results of an auction of 2-year Treasury notes.
At the same time, a report on existing-home sales wasn't quite as good as expected, but homebuilding shares mostly moved higher.
The Dow was negative because of one stock: Boeing (BA), which fell 6.5% to $43.87 after the aerospace giant said it is delaying the first flight of its 787 Dreamliner -- again. Boeing's loss subtracted roughly 25 points from the Dow.
Not only was Boeing the worst performer among the 30 Dow stocks, but it was also the worst performer in the S&P 500.
His lawyer says it's nearly a life sentence.
Is 12 years in jail enough of a punishment for confessed Ponzi schemer Bernie Madoff and his decades of bilking investors of billions?
Apparently, his lawyer thinks so.
"Mr. Madoff is currently 71 years old and has an approximate life expectancy of 13 years," Ira Sorkin, Madoff's lawyer, wrote in a letter to U.S. District Judge Denny Chin.
The aircraft maker says a section of the aircraft needs reinforcement.
Updated at 4:15 p.m. ET
Shares of Boeing (BA) fell $3.02, or 6.4%, to $43.88 today after the aircraft maker and Dow component said it is delaying the first flight of its 787 Dreamliner -- again.
Boeing said it needs to reinforce an area within the side-of-body section of the aircraft.
"Structural modifications like these are not uncommon in the development of new airplanes, and this is not an issue related to our choice of materials or the assembly and installation work of our team," Scott Carson, head of Boeing's commercial-plane business, said in a statement.
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Just reported, existing home sales hit an annualized rate of 5.05 million units in August, while the Briefing.com consensus expected a reading of 5.20 million. The pace for August was up from the prior month's revised rate of 5.14 million units (from 5.15 million). Nasdaq -26.88 at 4552.91... NYSE Adv/Dec 559/2272... Nasdaq Adv/Dec 561/1935.
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