On Thursday, before the market opens, Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM, -0.06%) is expected to report first quarter earnings. With the plunging oil prices over the last year, investors are interested to see what impact this has had on the company as well as Exxon’s forecast regarding oil prices in the future. As oil prices have declined, oil giant Exxon was forced to cut spending and earlier this year, the company announced that it had reduced its capital spending to $34 billion, down 12 percent. In order to save money, Exxon also reduced its share buybacks. Based on this, Exxon is expected to report revenue of $53.63 billion compared to sales of $106.77 billion the same time a year ago. Also, the integrated oil giant is expected to report earnings per share of 82 cents a share compared with $2.10 a share a year ago. In the past 12 months, the shares of Exxon Mobil have declined by almost 14 percent, with a 0.6 percent drop in the last 3 months. This is down compared to the 10 percent gains for the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) over the last twelve months as well as a 5 percent increase in the last 3 months. Most analysts rate Exxon stock as a hold and according to FactSet, the average price target is $94.06 a share. This target is currently approximately 8 percent above the current stock price.
On Wednesday, U.S. stocks ended the volatile trading session lower. This came after the Federal Reserve left all options open regarding the timing of interest rate hikes. In their statement, which followed its two-day policy meeting, the central bank stated that while the first quarter of the year saw a slowdown in the U.S. economy, a rebound is expected. As a result, the Nasdaq Composite index (COMP) dropped 0.6%, or 31.78 points, at 5,023.64. The top performer on the tech heavy index was China Yida Holding Co (NASDAQ:CNYD) which rose 61.87 percent to 4.500. Meanwhile, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) also declined 0.4%, or 74.61 points, to 18,035.53. The best performer of the session on the blue chip index was Caterpillar Inc. (NYSE:CAT), which traded at 87.50, up 1.51%. Also on the downside was the S&P 500 index (SPX) which closed down 0.4%, or 7.91 points, at 2,106.85. Losses on the benchmark index were led by consumer discretionary, health care and consumer staples companies.
The U.S. dollar (USD) traded lower on Wednesday. This came after poor economic data showed that the economic growth in the U.S. slowed more sharply than expected during the 1st-quarter. In their report, the Commerce Department showed that the GDP (gross domestic product) in the U.S. grew in the first quarter by only 0.2 percent. This was a decline from 2.2% in the final quarter of last year. This also marked the slowest rate of growth in a year. In a separate report from the National Association of Realtors, data showed that the index for pending home sales increased 1.1 percent in March, beating expectations for a 1.0% gain. Meanwhile, EUR/USD traded at 1.1127, up 1.32% while the GBP/USD also traded up 0.66% at 1.5439. Against the Canadian dollar and the yen, the greenback traded mixed with USD/CAD down 0.52% and trading at 1.1970 while the USD/JPY held steady at 118.93. Also, the U.S. dollar index was at 95.26, down 0.97 percent.
On Thursday, in early morning trading in Asia, crude oil prices declined. WTI crude for delivery in June was trading at $58.46 a barrel, down 0.21 percent. Overnight on Wednesday, crude futures rose to reach their highest level since the end of last year. This came in response to data which showed that the buildup last week came in lower than expected which helped to alleviate supply concerns. In their weekly report on Wednesday, the EIA (Energy Information Administration) said that for the week ended 24 April, crude inventories increased by 1.9 million barrels. This was way below estimates for an increase of 3.3 million barrel. Meanwhile on Wednesday, Brent crude oil for June delivery traded at $65.83 a barrel, up $1.19, on the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE).