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Morning Briefing: 10 Things You Should Know

Tickers in this article: BX DELL HPQ JBL MU NKE ORCL

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Here are 10 things you should know for Thursday, March 21:

1. -- U.S. stock futures were pointing to a flat to lower open on Wall Street Thursday, pausing after the Federal Reserve pledged continued stimulus support and business activity appeared to have slowed in Germany, Europe's biggest economy.

European shares were trading lower. The European Central Bank on Thursday gave Cyprus a deadline of Monday on finding a solution to raising ¿5.8 billion in funds to meet requirements under a ¿10 billion bailout package after the Cypriot parliament rejected the proposal for levies on Cyprus bank accounts.

Asian stocks ended Thursday's session mixed. Japan's Nikkei 225 index rose 1.3% to 12,635.69.

2. -- The economic calendar in the U.S. Thursday includes initial jobless claims at 8:30 a.m. EDT, existing-home sales for February at 10 a.m., and leading indicators for February at 10 a.m.

3. -- U.S. stocks on Wednesday closed higher as the Federal Reserve's policy-making announcement forecast a return to moderate economic growth and repeated its commitment to stimulate the economy by buying bonds and other securities.

The S&P 500 rose 0.67% to 1,558.71 to end a three-day skid.

The Nasdaq closed up by 0.78% to 3,254.19 while the Dow Jones Industrial Average advanced 55.91 points, or 0.39%, to 14,511.73.

4. -- The Federal Reserve left interest rates unchanged Wednesday as it said the labor market is showing signs of improvement and suggested that the economy is returning to moderate economic growth.

5. -- Oracle (ORCL) , the business software maker, posted fiscal third-quarter earnings and revenue below analysts' estimates.

Oracle reported earnings on Wednesday of 65 cents a share on revenue of $8.97 billion. New software licenses and cloud-software subscription revenue were down 2% to $2.3 billion. Analysts were looking for earnings of 66 cents a share on sales of $9.38 billion.

Total software revenue rose 4% to $6.67 billion, and hardware-systems revenue declined 16% to $1.24 billion. Services revenue fell 8% to $1.045 billion.

"Our non-GAAP operating margin increased to a Q3 record of 47%, and we expect it to reach an all-time high for the fiscal year," said Oracle President and Chief Financial Officer Safra Catz in a press release.

6. -- Blackstone Group (BX) , which is weighing an offer for PC maker Dell(DELL) , is pushing to recruit Oracle President Mark Hurd to be CEO of the Round Rock, Texas, company, Reuters reported, citing a person familiar with the situation.

7. -- Nike(NKE) is expected by Wall Street to report on Thursday fiscal third-quarter earnings of 67 cents a share on revenue of $6.23 billion.

8. -- Hewlett-Packard(HPQ) kept its board intact, despite an effort at the company's annual meeting Wednesday to oust its two longest-serving directors, John Hammergren and G. Kennedy Thompson, following recent questionable acquisitions.