Oracle Corp , the world's No. 2 business software maker, slightly beat Wall Street forecasts for its third-quarter profit as bigger spending on corporate information technology lifted sales of its computer programs.

The report by the world's biggest maker of database software may stoke hopes that technology spending by businesses is on the mend after it collapsed a year ago in the recession. Oracle, which reports earnings a month ahead of its peers, is seen as an industry bellwether because of its size.

The company, run by billionaire Larry Ellison, posted a profit, excluding items, of 38 cents per share, in its third quarter ended February 28, above the average Wall Street forecast of 37 cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Quarterly new software sales rose 13 percent from a year earlier to $1.7 billion. Three months ago, the company forecast that they would decline 1 percent to increase 9 percent.

Investors focus on new software sales because they are a forward indicator of Oracle's profit. Customers generally sign maintenance contracts when they buy software, which locks in predictable, recurring revenue.

Revenue at the company, whose rivals include International Business Machines Corp , SAP and Hewlett-Packard Co , rose 17 percent to $6.4 billion.

The software maker's shares were little changed in extended trading. They had climbed 28 cents to $26.04 in regular Nasdaq trade.

(Reporting by Jim Finkle; Editing by Richard Chang)