Microsoft Corp reported a sharp dip in quarterly profit on Thursday, missing Wall Street's lowered forecasts, hurt by a decline in technology spending in a global economic downturn.

The world's largest software company, which withdrew its profit forecasts in January due to the uncertain economy, said it expected weakness in its markets to continue through at least the next quarter.

Microsoft, based in Redmond, Washington, reported fiscal third-quarter profit of $2.98 billion, or 33 cents per share, compared with $4.39 billion, or 47 cents per share, in the year-ago quarter.

That missed analysts' average estimate of 39 cents per share, according to Reuters Estimates.

Sales fell 6 percent to $13.65 billion, marking the first year-on-year decline in quarterly revenue in Microsoft's 34-year history. Analysts were expecting $14.1 billion, on average.

The company's shares rose 3.1 percent in after-hours trading, after closing at $18.92 on Nasdaq.

(Reporting by Bill Rigby; Editing by Richard Chang)