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5 Things You Should Know Before the Stock Market Opens

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- U.S. stock futures were signaling a flat start to trading on Wall Street Wednesday following a broad rally in the previous session on a strong global growth forecast from the International Monetary Fund and strong corporate earnings.

European shares were moving lower on Wednesday, while Asian stocks closed with gains. Tokyo's Nikkei 225 index finished 2.1% higher to 9,667.26, boosted by Bank of Japan Deputy Governor Kiyohiko Nishimura's suggestion the central bank might take additional stimulus steps to tackle deflation, according to the Kyodo news agency.

The economic calendar in the U.S. Wednesday includes just the Mortgage Bankers Association's weekly index of mortgage application activity at 7 a.m. EDT, and weekly crude oil inventories at 10:30 a.m.

Warren Buffett, the billionaire investor, has stage I prostate cancer.

The Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.B) chairman and CEO revealed the disease in a letter released after the close of trading on Tuesday.

"The good news is that I've been told by my doctors that my condition is not remotely life threatening or even debilitating in any meaningful way," Buffett wrote in a letter disclosing the illness to Berkshire shareholders.

The revelation of the disease, which is one of the more treatable forms of cancer when caught early, once again brings to the forefront all the questions and fears about succession planning at Berkshire Hathaway.

Yahoo! (YHOO - Get Report) posted better-than-expected first-quarter results.

Yahoo! earned 23 cents a share on revenue of $1.08 billion. Analysts were expecting profit of 17 cents a share on revenue of $1.06 billion.

The Internet company also gave stronger-than-expected second-quarter revenue guidance.

On the Yahoo! conference call Tuesday, CEO Scott Thompson announced the company is cutting 50 properties, but didn't say which properties were being unloaded.

Thompson was also asked about the sale of its Asian assets, and noted that Yahoo! is "continuing to pursue active discussions with Alibaba."

Pfizer (PFE - Get Report) may be close to deciding on a sale of its baby nutrition unit and an initial public offering of its animal health business, The Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday.

The Journal reported that the pharmaceuticals giant may announce a baby health sale to Nestlé for $9 billion as early as next week.

Meanwhile, Pfizer may hire JPMorgan, Bank of America and Morgan Stanley to lead an IPO of its animal vaccine and drug unit as early as this summer.

Two components of the Dow Jones Industrial Average issue results on Wednesday: American Express (AXP) and United Technologies (UTX - Get Report).

-- Written by Joseph Woelfel

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

>To submit a news tip, send an email to:
Copyright 2012 Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. AP contributed to this report.

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