5 Things You Should Know Before the Stock Market Opens

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- U.S. futures were lower as investors awaited a conference call from Apple ( AAPL) Monday morning on the tech giant's plans for its $100 billion cash hoard.

European shares slipped and Asian stocks finished mixed. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index declined 1%, while Japan's gained 0.1% to 10,141.99, its fifth higher close in a row.

The only item on the U.S. calendar Monday is the National Association of Home Builders housing market index for March. It will be released at 10 a.m. EDT. The consensus is for a reading of 31, up slightly from 29 in February.


Many investors expect Apple to begin issuing a dividend.

The company published a brief investor alert on its Web site Sunday saying a conference call at 9 a.m. EDT will "announce the outcome of the Company's discussions concerning its cash balance."

Apple CEO Tim Cook and Chief Financial Officer Peter Oppenheimer will host the call.


Meanwhile, Apple appears to be making less of a profit from each new iPad than it did when it launched the previous model a year ago, according to research firm IHS iSuppli.

IHS iSuppli took apart a new iPad on Friday, the day the device went on sale in the U.S. and nine other countries. It found the components are more expensive than those found in the iPad 2.

Apple's third iPad starts at $499, the same price as the iPad 2 cost when it launched.


United Parcel Service ( UPS) said Monday it agreed to buy TNT Express, the second-largest express delivery company in Europe, for almost $7 billion.

UPS will buy TNT for €9.5 a share ($6.77 billion). Last month, UPS offered to buy TNT for €9 a share, or $6.4 billion, but the offer was rejected.

The acquisition is the biggest ever for UPS, which is the No. 1 delivery company in the world.

UPS said the deal would expand its reach in Europe and other markets where TNT has operations like Latin America and Asia.


Mitt Romney, the Republican front-runner, won Puerto Rico's presidential primary Sunday in convincing fashion.

Romney took more than than 50% of the vote, and won all 20 delegates to the GOP national convention that were at stake, according to The Associated Press.

Primaries this week will be held in Illinois on Tuesday and Louisiana on Saturday.

-- 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.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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