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5 Things You Need to Know Before the Stock Market Opens

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- U.S. stock futures were rising Tuesday ahead of a policy statement from the Federal Reserve and February retail sales, which economists expect to rise 1.2%.

European stocks were higher while Asian stocks finished with gains. Tokyo's Nikkei 225 index ended up less than 0.1% after the Bank of Japan kept its benchmark interest rate unchanged at zero to 0.1%.

The Fed isn't expected to make any changes to its key interest rate on Tuesday. Investors, however, will look for hints from the central bank that it will still support the economy even as the economy improves.

"There's a good chance that somewhere in the Fed statement it will reflect that fact that GDP has underperformed," said Michael Hanson, U.S. economist at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. Hanson said the market may run with any suggestion that QE3 is on the horizon, because the Fed is currently in the position of forecasting stronger growth for this year than economists expect.

The Fed statement is expected at 2:15 p.m. EDT.

Yahoo! (YHOO - Get Report) filed a lawsuit against its partner Facebook, accusing the social networking giant of patent infringement.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court in San Jose, details patents related to messaging, social networking, privacy, customization and advertising.

"Yahoo! has invested substantial resources in research and development through the years, which has resulted in numerous patented inventions of technology that other companies have licensed," said a Yahoo!spokesman. "Unfortunately, the matter with Facebook remains unresolved and we are compelled to seek redress in federal court -- we are confident that we will prevail."

Express Scripts (ESRX - Get Report) and Medco (MHS) said in a regulatory filing Monday they would give the Federal Trade Commission more time to examine their $29 billion merger.

"Medco and Express Scripts continue to work with the FTC and expect that the mergers will be completed by the earlier part of the second quarter of 2012," Medco said in the filing.

The pharmacy benefit managers announced a merger agreement in July.

Intel (INTC - Get Report) is considering creating an online pay-television service that works on TV sets, computers and mobile devices, Bloomberg reported, citing three people with knowledge of the plans.

The chipmaker reached out to media companies and cable channels about getting the rights to broadcast shows, said the people, Bloomberg reported.

Intel would sell a Web-connected set-top box capable of streaming TV and video-on-demand programming, according to The Wall Street Journal.

-- Written by Joseph Woelfel

>To contact the writer of this article, click here: Joseph Woelfel

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