HPE, Uber, Axalta and Disney - 5 Things You Must Know Before the Market Opens - TheStreet

Here are five things you must know for Wednesday, Nov. 22:

1. -- U.S. stock futures were pointing to a slightly higher start for Wall Street on Wednesday, Nov. 22, after the three major U.S. indexes closed at record highs in the previous session.

Strength in the tech and health-care sectors buoyed optimism prior to the Thanksgiving holiday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 160 points, or 0.69% to close at 23,590 on Tuesday, Nov. 21. The S&P 500 Index rose 17 points, or 0.66%, after it surpassed 2,600 points for the first time earlier in the session. The Nasdaq increased 72 points, or 1.06%.

Global oil prices tested two-year highs on Wednesday, led by U.S. crude, as an expected dip in domestic production combined with ongoing disruptions to imports from Canada lifted markets ahead of next week's OPEC summit in Vienna. 

Futures for West Texas Intermediate crude jumped 1.74% to $57.82 a barrel in trading early Wednesday, leaving prices just shy of their two-year high of a little more than $58. International benchmark Brent crude futures traded at $63.19, up 1%.

The economic calendar in the U.S. on Wednesday includes weekly Jobless Claims at 8:30 a.m. ET, Durable Goods Orders for October at 8:30 a.m., Oil Inventories for the week ended Nov. 17 at 10:30 a.m., and minutes from the Nov. 1 meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee at 2 p.m.

Deere & Co. (DE) - Get Report  reported fiscal fourth-quarter earnings of $1.57 a share, 10 cents ahead of analysts' estimates. Sales of $7.09 billion also beat forecasts.

Deere shares rose 2.4% in premarket trading.

Markets in the U.S. will be closed on Thursday, Nov. 23, for Thanksgiving, while trading on Friday, Nov. 24, will end at 1 p.m.

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2. -- Shares of Hewlett-Packard Enterprise Co. (HPE) - Get Report  fell 5.7% in premarket trading on Wednesday after the enterprise IT giant announced that CEO Meg Whitman would be stepping down at the end of January and guided for fiscal first-quarter earnings below analysts' expectations.

According to TheStreet's Eric Jhonsa, Whitman's departure wasn't too shocking. Jhonsa wrote how Whitman reportedly had begun making plans to leave HPE and that she had interviewed for the top job at Uber Technologies Inc. over the summer.

Whitman will be replaced by Antonio Neri, HPE's president and a senior company executive since 2011.

HPE said Tuesday that it expects adjusted earnings in its fiscal first quarter of 20 cents to 24 cents a share, below projections of 27 cents.

3. -- Uber, the ride-hailing company, paid $100,000 to hackers who stole personal details of 50 million customers and 7 million drivers to delete the data and keep quiet about the hack, according to published reports. 

The hack occurred more than a year ago, but wasn't disclosed until Tuesday. Privately held Uber ousted its chief security officer, Joe Sullivan, and another employee in connection with the hack and cover up, Bloomberg reported.

Dara Khosrowshahi, who became CEO of Uber earlier this fall, said in a statement, "None of this should have happened, and I will not make excuses for it."

The hackers downloaded names and driver's license numbers of around 600,000 drivers, Khosrowshahi said. Names, email addresses and mobile phone numbers of 57 million Uber users, including the drivers, also were downloaded. The company said it would offer credit monitoring and identity theft protection to the affected drivers.

4. -- Akzo Nobel NV (AKZOY)  called off its planned merger with Axalta Coating Systems Ltd.  (AXTA) - Get Report amid reports that Japan's Nippon Paint Holdings Co.  (NPCPF) has swooped in with an all-cash bid for the Warren Buffett-backed group.

A report from Reuters had linked Nippon, the country's biggest paintmaker, to a potential $8.2 billion play for Axalta, which had confirmed merger talks with the beleaguered Akzo Nobel only three weeks ago.

Axalta shares surged 6.3% to $36 in premarket trading on Wednesday.

In a statement published late Tuesday, Akzo Nobel said the collapse of the talks wouldn't affect plans to split its business -- a strategy hatched to combat pressure from activist investor Elliott Management, which was pushing for a $30 billion tie-up with PPG Industries Inc.  (PPG) - Get Report -- or alter the group's 2020 financial targets.

Axalta, whose largest shareholder is Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (BRK.A) - Get Report , said it continued to pursue other "value-creating alternatives" although it didn't disclose Nippon Paint's role, if any, in the termination of the discussions with Akzo Noebl, Reuters noted.

5. -- Walt Disney Co. (DIS) - Get Report  shares rose slightly in premarket trading on Wednesday after Pixar co-founder John Lasseter said he would take "a six-month sabbatical" after unspecified "missteps" that made some staffers feel "disrespected or uncomfortable," the New York Times reported.

"I especially want to apologize to anyone who has ever been on the receiving end of an unwanted hug or any other gesture they felt crossed the line in any way, shape or form," Lasseter wrote in an email to employees of Pixar, Disney's animation unit, according to the Times. "No matter how benign my intent, everyone has the right to set their own boundaries and have them respected," Lasseter said in his email, the Times reported.

A Disney executive said: "We are committed to maintaining an environment in which all employees are respected and empowered to do their best work," according to the Times. "We appreciate John's candor and sincere apology and fully support his sabbatical."

Pixar was acquired by Disney in 2006 for $7.4 billion. Pixar has produced many popular movies, including "Toy Story," "Finding Nemo," "Up" and "Inside Out."

This story has been updated from 6:08 a.m. ET.

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