Fed testing Wall Street's 'patience'; Facebook 'likes' money; AmEx's new loyalty program

Wall Street remains uneasy as investors await word from the Federal Reserve on when it’s likely to start raising interest rates.

Stocks (^GSPC) (^IXIC) (^DJI) are lower across the board as oil prices continue to tumble and the dollar is little changed against the euro.

Yahoo Finance’s Aaron Task expects the Fed will drop the word ‘patient ‘ from its statement today, but adds the timing of rate hike is still the big question.

“Given the recent economic data,  given the strength of the dollar…the outlook of a June rate hike is looking less likely than it was a couple of weeks ago,” Task points out.

Earnings from some big name companies also in focus. 

FedEx (FDX) reporting earnings that topped estimates while revenue fell slightly short of forecasts. Profits jumped 53% in its holiday quarter as it benefited from cheaper gas prices and improved volumes. But the company’s outlook for the year was lower than what Wall Street expected.

Related: FedEx delivers mixed results; General Mills sales slump; Oracle gets a lift from the cloud

General Mills (GIS) posting fiscal third quarter profit that topped analysts’ forecasts.  Revenue fell 1% but was in line with estimates.  General Mills blames the strong dollar for the drop in sales…its 6th consecutive quarter of declines.

Oracle (ORCL) reporting earnings per share that came right in line with Wall Street views as its software and cloud business gained strength offsetting declines in hardware sales. Meantime, revenue slightly missed forecasts as the stronger dollar took a toll on sales. Oracle also raised its quarterly dividend by 25% to 15-cents per share.

Adobe Systems (ADBE) issuing a weaker-than-expected outlook for its current quarter after adding fewer creative cloud subscribers in its previous quarter. However, earnings and revenue for its first quarter topped analysts’ estimates with sales rising 11% percent from a year earlier.

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Kraft (KRFT) also grabbing headlines. The food giant is recalling 242,000 cases or more than 6.5 million of its Kraft Macaroni & Cheese Dinner boxes because some could contain pieces of metals. The company said it has received eight complaints, but no injuries have been reported.  A list of the recalled products is available on its website.

Goldman Sachs’ (GS) specialty lending arm making its market debut  this morning. The initial public offering priced at $ 20-dollars a share, the low end of its estimated range raising $ 120 million dollars. The lender will provide loans to U.S. businesses with no credit ratings and between $ 5 and  $ 75 million in annual earnings  Goldman Sachs  BDC began  trading on New York Stock Exchange this morning  under the ticker “GSBD”.

Facebook (FB) is getting into the money business. Half a billion Facebook messaging app users can now send cash to friends. Once users link a debit card, they can send funds by clicking a dollar sign in the app’s chat box. The service will be free and Facebook says it doesn’t have plans to monetize the feature. The company also says the service will be available in the U.S soon.

Related: AmEx tries to score with points

Meantime, American Express (AXP) is getting set to launch a new kind of points payment system. The credit card provider is hooking up with seven U.S. companies in the first ever multi-business loyalty program. Customers will be able to earn and redeem points through AmEx’s “Plenti” program. Points earned at stores including Macy’s (M) and RiteAid  (RAD) can be used on items such as AT&T (T) bills or gas at ExxonMobil (XOM). 

 

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