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US EQUITIES WEEK AHEAD: Oracle, FedEx Earnings; Housing Reports

By Nathalie Tadena Of DOW JONES NEWSWIRES NEW YORK -(Dow Jones)- A handful of notable companies, including business-software giant Oracle Corp. (ORCL) and shipping company FedEx Corp. (FDX), are set to report their latest quarterly results next week. Markets will examine a plethora of housing data next week for signs of improvement in the ailing housing sector. Software firm ExactTarget Inc. leads a slate of five companies across a range of industries expected to go public next week. Oracle, FedEx Set To Report Quarterly Results Software company Oracle will release its latest quarterly results Tuesday, a report that will shed insight into enterprise spending on technology. Oracle, one of the technology industry's bellwethers, in December reported weak fiscal second-quarter earnings as delayed customer purchases caused sales in its core software business to grow less than expected and revenue in its newer hardware division to decline more than it had feared. However, the company is expected to post top- and bottom-line growth for the third quarter. FedEx, the world's largest air-cargo carrier, is expected to post improved fiscal third-quarter results Thursday. FedEx suffered drops in both its key international priority and domestic U.S. shipping segments during the second quarter, though the company said in December that it had set a new daily record for domestic shipments, driven by online holiday shopping sales. Other notable companies reporting next week include software company Adobe Systems Inc. (ADBE), investment bank Jefferies Group Inc. (JEF), luxury jewelry retailer Tiffany & Co. (TIF), credit-card company Discover Financial Services (DFS), food maker General Mills Inc. (GIS) and sporting-goods maker Nike Inc. (NKE). NAHB Index, Other Housing Data Due Several housing data reports next week will provide more insight into the housing sector's sluggish recovery. On Monday, the National Association of Realtors will release its March housing index, a reading on home-builder confidence. The index in February rose to its highest level in nearly five years, a clear sign of improvement for an industry trying to climb out of a deep slump. Data on February housing starts will be released the next day. U.S. home building rose slightly in January and beat economists' forecasts. February existing-home sales will be reported Wednesday, while data on new home sales will be released Friday. January sales of existing homes topped expectations with a 4.3% monthly gain, but December's number was revised sharply lower, damping some of the positive sentiment. Meanwhile, sales of new homes in the U.S. slipped in January, after climbing for several months. The recent decline could reflect buyers opting for less-expensive previously occupied homes rather than new ones as Americans' wages and the overall economy grow modestly. ExactTarget, BATS Exchange Among Companies To Debut Next Week This coming week will be an active one in the U.S. IPO market, with a wide range of industries represented, including a software company, an electronic stock exchange and the first Chinese company in seven months to attempt to debut in America. In total, five initial public offerings are expected to price, led by interest in the software firm ExactTarget Inc. The company, which makes tools that help businesses market to their customers via email, mobile, social media and website interactions, is hoping to raise as much as $144 million through a listing on the New York Stock Exchange as "ET." Deals from payment processor Vantiv Inc. and electronic exchange BATS Global Markets also could draw interest next week. Vantiv, which wants to raise $592 million on the NYSE under the symbol "VNTV," allows businesses to accept and process credit, debit and prepaid payments. BATS, the third-largest exchange in the U.S., wants to raise $113 million on its own exchange under the symbol "BATS." Other companies expected to debut next week are quartz countertop maker Caesarstone Sdot-Yam Ltd. and Chinese online retailer Vipshop Holdings Ltd. Bankruptcy Court To Hear Kodak's Request To Sell Online-Photo Business On Tuesday, a Manhattan judge will take up Eastman Kodak Co.'s (EKDKQ) request to sell its online-photo business to rival Shutterfly Inc. (SFLY), subject to a competitive-auction process. Shutterfly's $23.8 million bid for Kodak Gallery would serve as what is known as the stalking-horse bid at an auction Kodak wants to hold April 26. Under Kodak's proposal, competing bidders would submit their offers by April 20, and Shutterfly would receive a $600,000 breakup fee if it lost to one of those bids. Kodak Gallery allows users to store, edit, share and print images online, as well as to create photo books and gifts. In court papers, Kodak said this business has lost customers, orders and revenue over the past five years and would require significant investment to become competitive. The sale includes the Gallery business as well as customer accounts and uploaded images. Senate To Hold Fed Confirmation Hearings Next Week The Senate Banking Committee expects to begin confirmation hearings for the two nominees to the U.S. Federal Reserve Board of Governors next Tuesday, according to a Senate Democratic aide. More than two months after being nominated by President Barack Obama, Harvard University finance professor Jeremy Stein and private-equity executive Jerome Powell are scheduled to appear Tuesday before the Senate committee that will kick-start their congressional review. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke hinted to lawmakers at a recent hearing that he would like to see the two vacant seats filled at the Fed's Board of Governors, which hasn't had a full roster of seven confirmed governors since April 2006. Currently, the Board has five governors, including Bernanke. Conferences Among the significant conferences next week are the J.P. Morgan Gaming, Lodging, Restaurant & Leisure Management Access Forum Monday and Tuesday in Las Vegas; the Sidoti & Co LLC Institutional Investor Forum on Monday and Tuesday in New York; the Hart Energy Marcellus Midstream Conference & Exhibition Monday to Wednesday in Pittsburgh; the Pacific Crest Future of IT Conference on Tuesday in Boston; and the Mizuho Securities USA Technology Summit on Tuesday in Boston. -By Nathalie Tadena, Dow Jones Newswires; 212-416-3287; nathalie.tadena@dowjones.com --Lynn Cowan, Jacqueline Palank, Kristina Peterson and Dow Jones Newswires staff contributed to this article.

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