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5 Things You Should Know Before the Stock Market Opens

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- U.S. stock futures were pointing lower Wednesday, following European shares to the downside after Greece's political leaders failed to form a coalition government.

Investors in Asia also fretted over the political turmoil in Greece, sending shares lower. Japan's Nikkei 225 index declined 1.5% Wednesday to 8,771.60.

The failure by Greece's leaders to form a new government means new elections must be held in June.

The economic calendar in the U.S. Wednesday includes housing starts and building permits for April at 8:30 a.m. EDT, industrial production and capacity utilization for April at 9:15 a.m., and the release of the minutes of the last meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee at 2 p.m.


General Motors (GM - Get Report) could get a boost Wednesday from news that Warren Buffett has purchased a significant stake in the automaker.

Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.B) disclosed in a regulatory filing that it bought 10 million shares of GM during the first quarter, the first time Berkshire has bought into the automaker since it emerged from bankruptcy in 2009.

GM reportedly also has decided to stop advertising on Facebook. A source told Reuters that GM had decided the ads had little impact on consumers.


Speaking of Facebook, the No. 1 social network reportedly plans to increase the size of its initial public offering by 25% because of strong investor demand and could raise as much as $16 billion.

Facebook will add about 85 million shares to its IPO, floating about 422 million shares in an offering expected on Friday, a source told Reuters.


Activist shareholder Relational Investors has acquired a roughly $600 million stake in PepsiCo (PEP - Get Report), The Wall Street Journal reported.

Relational didn't call for any immediate changes, but it has let its views be known: Pepsi's slow-growing beverages business would be better off in a separate, independent structure from the rest of the company, the Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.


J.C. Penney (JCP - Get Report) reported a wider-than-expected quarterly loss, and the company discontinued its dividend.

The department store retailer also expects to record additional restructuring charges in 2012 so it dropped its outlook for GAAP earnings of $1.59 a share for the year. Eliminating the quarterly dividend of 20 cents a share is expected to save J.C. Penney $175 million annually.

-- Written by Joseph Woelfel

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

>To submit a news tip, send an email to: tips@thestreet.com.

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