Here are 10 things you should know for Thursday, Jan. 23:
1.-- U.S. stock futures were suggesting Wall Street would open lower on Thursday after a preliminary HSBC report said manufacturing output in China, the world's second-largest economy, could contract in January.
The Shanghai Composite Index in mainland China fell 0.5% while Japan's Nikkei 225 finished down by 0.8%.
European stocks were trading mostly to the upside on Thursday.
2.-- The economic calendar in the U.S. Thursday includes weekly initial jobless claims at 8:30 a.m. EST, the FHFA Housing Price Index for November at 9 a.m., existing home sales for December at 10 a.m., and leading indicators for December at 10 a.m.
3.-- U.S. stocks on Wednesday finished flat, with the S&P 500 rising slightly as corporate earnings reports came in mixed. The S&P 500 rose 0.06% to close at 1,844.86, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.25% to 16,373.34. The Nasdaq gained 0.41% to finish at 4,243.
4.-- China's Lenovo, the world's largest PC maker, agreed to acquire IBM's (IBM) x86 server business for $2.3 billion, and said it expects to offer jobs to 7,500 IBM employees in locations around the world.
IBM will continue to develop Windows and Linux software for the x86 platform and will provide service to customers for an extended period after the acquisition, the companies said.
IBM shares rose 0.7% in premarket trading to $182.38.
5.-- Activist investor Carl Icahn has taken a large stake in eBay (EBAY) and is calling for the company to spin off its highly successful payments division PayPal.
EBay said in a fourth-quarter earnings release that Icahn, who owns a 0.82% stake in eBay, has nominated two of his employees to the company's board and submitted a non-binding proposal for the spinoff, which would seek to split PayPal off from eBay's online marketplace businesses, which also include ticket re-seller StubHub
and fulfillment specialist GSI Commerce
San Jose-based eBay said Icahn's appointments would be passed onto a nominating committee of the company's board. EBay also disclosed that it has already explored a spinoff or separation of PayPal in an "in depth" manner. Those assessments, however, led the company to believe it was in the best interest of shareholders to keep PayPal intertwined with the larger company.
EBay posted fourth-quarter earnings on Wednesday of $850 million, or 65 cents a share, up 13% from year-earlier earnings of $751 million, or 57 cents a share. Adjusted earnings were 81 cents a share, beating analysts' expectations by a penny.
Revenue in the fourth quarter rose 13% to $4.53 billion.
The stock rose 2.3% to $55.66 in premarket trading.
-- Netflix (NFLX)
, the online entertainment company, posted better than expected fourth-quarter earnings
on Wednesday and said it was testing different pricing levels.
Netflix posted earnings of 79 cents a share on revenue of $1.18 billion. It ended the quarter with 33.42 million streaming subscribers, of whom 31.71 million were paying members. Streaming margins hit 23% in the fourth quarter.
Analysts were expecting Netflix to earn 66 cents a share in the quarter on revenue of $1.17 billion.
The company, which introduced an $11.99 streaming option last April, said eventually it would like to offer three simple pricing options to appeal to everyone, and if there are pricing changes for new members, existing members would be grandfathered in at the old rates.
Netflix shares soared 17% in premarket trading to $390.33.
-- Hamburger giant McDonald's (MCD)
is expected by analysts on Thursday to report fourth-quarter earnings of $1.39 a share on revenue of $7.11 billion.
The stock was unchanged in premarket trading.
8.-- Starbucks (SBUX) is forecast to report fiscal first-quarter earnings on Thursday of 69 cents a share on sales of $4.29 billion. A year earlier, the coffee company earned 57 cents a share.
Starbucks shares rose 0.35% to $73.86.
9.-- Regulators are beginning to scrutinize Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A) to determine whether it is important enough to the financial system to require Federal Reserve supervision, Bloomberg reported, citing two people with knowledge of the matter.
The Financial Stability Oversight Council staff's study of Berkshire doesn't mean the panel is inclined to apply the "systemically important" label to Berkshire, the people said, adding that any decision could be months away.
Berkshire Hathaway's reinsurance operation is the world's fourth-largest.
10.-- JPMorgan Chase (JPM) has been telling employees this week about their 2013 bonuses, and most workers aren't getting pay increases for the year because of the costs to settle government and private claims against the bank, Reuters reported.
-- Written by Joseph Woelfel
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