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5 Things You Should Know Before the Stock Market Opens

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- U.S. stock futures indicated Wall Street would open lower Thursday as data showed China's factory activity shrank to a four-month low and Germany's business activity showed only slight expansion.

European shares were lower and Asian stocks finished the trading session mixed. Japan's Nikkei 225 index in Tokyo ended 0.4% higher at 10,127.08.

Thursday's economic calendar in the U.S. features the usual weekly initial and continuing jobless claims at 8:30 a.m. EDT. The consensus, according to, is for initial claims to tick up to 355,000 from 351,000 last week..

Goldman Sachs (GS - Get Report) has begun scanning internal emails for the term "muppet" and other evidence that employees referred to clients in derogatory ways, CEO Lloyd Blankfein told partners in a conference call this week, Reuters reported, citing people familiar with the call.

Greg Smith, a former banker at Goldman Sachs, wrote in a scathing op-ed piece in The New York Times last week that he saw Goldman managing directors often refer to clients in internal emails as muppets, which is slang for a stupid person in Britain.

In his op-ed piece, Smith called Goldman a "toxic and destructive" place.

FedEx (FDX - Get Report), the package delivery giant, is scheduled to report fiscal third-quarter results before the opening bell, and analysts expect profit of $1.35 a share on revenue of $10.6 billion.

Dahlman Rose, which has a buy rating on FedEx, said Wednesday it is looking for "solid" results in the quarter but added that fuel costs could be a "mild headwind" and bear watching.

FedEx officials also may be asked by analysts what it thinks of the acquisition of TNT Express by rival United Parcel Service (UPS) earlier this week.

McDonald's (MCD - Get Report) CEO Jim Skinner will step down on June 30 and hand the reigns of the world's largest hamburger chain to President Donald Thompson.

Skinner has been CEO since 2004.

Thompson, 48 years old, has long been considered among the top candidates in line to succeed Skinner. He has been with McDonald's for 22 years. He will be the first African American to head McDonald's.

Bank of America (MCD - Get Report) has cut jobs in its equities, mortgage-backed securities and research divisions in recent weeks, two sources familiar with the situation told Reuters.

The bank has been cutting staff in investment banking and capital markets since last summer as business dwindled during the European debt crisis. The latest job cuts are part of a regular review of the company's global banking and markets unit, one of the sources said.

The departing bankers include John McNiff, a managing director who had previously served as co-head of commercial mortgage securities trading.

-- Written by Joseph Woelfel

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

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