5 Things You Should Know Before the Stock Market Opens

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- U.S. stock futures were pointing to a flat to higher open for Wall Street on Wednesday following Tuesday's gains on the back of a much better-than-expected report on U.S. manufacturing activity.

European stocks were trading mixed, while Asian shares finished Wednesday's session higher. Japan's Nikkei 225 index rose 0.7% to close at 9,380.25.

The economic calendar in the U.S. Wednesday includes the employment change report from Automatic Data Processing for April at 8:15 a.m. EDT, and factory orders for March at 10 a.m. ET.

Economists forecast a rise of 170,000 private payroll jobs in April.

The initial public offering of Facebook reportedly will take place on May 18 with the social networking company's roadshow seen starting in less than a week.

The Wall Street Journal said Facebook plans to begin the roadshow on May 7, with the IPO following 11 days later, on a Friday.

Sears ( SHLD) meets with shareholders Wednesday outside Chicago, and investors will look for clues on how the retailer will turn around a business that has seen annual revenue fall 20% since 2006.

On Tuesday, Sears said it expected first-quarter net income of between $155 million and $195 million, or between $1.46 a share to $1.84 a share.

A year earlier, Sears posted a loss of $165 million, or $1.53 a share.

Credit card giants MasterCard ( MA) and Visa ( V) both report first-quarter earnings on Wednesday.

Analysts expect MasterCard to post earnings of $5.29 a share, up from $4.29 a share a year earlier.

Visa is expected by Wall Street analysts to post first-quarter earnings of $1.50 a share, up from $1.23 a share in the year-earlier period.

Ascena Retail Group ( ASNA) agreed to acquire Charming Shoppes ( CHRS), the parent company of Lane Bryant and Fashion Bug, for $890 million.

Ascena will make a cash tender offer for all outstanding common shares of Charming Shoppes at $7.35 a share. Charming Shoppes closed trading Tuesday at $5.90.

-- Written by Joseph Woelfel

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

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Copyright 2012 TheStreet.com Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. AP contributed to this report.

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