Morning Briefing: 10 Things You Should Know

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Here are 10 things you should know for Thursday, June 20:

1. -- U.S. stock futures were pointing lower and gold prices were tumbling following the Federal Reserve's suggestion on Wednesday that it could start tapering its economic stimulus later this year.

European shares were posting losses while Asian shares finished Thursday's trading session to the downside. Japan's Nikkei 225 index fell 1.7%.

2. -- The economic calendar in the U.S. Thursday includes weekly initial jobless claims at 8:30 a.m. EDT, existing-home sales for May at 10 a.m. and leading indicators for May at 10 a.m.

3. -- U.S. stocks on Wednesday declined after the Fed said it would maintain its current stimulus program of buying $85 billion per month to help sustain the U.S. economic recovery but could start scaling back later this year.

The S&P 500 tumbled 1.39% to 1,628.93 while the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 1.34% to 15,112.27. The Nasdaq dropped 1.12% to 3,443.20.

4. -- A private survey showed manufacturing in China fell to a nine-month low in June.

HSBC's preliminary purchasing managers index fell to 48.3 in June, down from 49.6 in May. Numbers below 50 indicate a contraction.

It's the second month that the China PMI fell below 50.

5. -- Microsoft ( MSFT) recently held advanced talks with Nokia ( NOK) about buying its handset business, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

The discussions faltered over price and worries about Nokia's slumping market position, the people told the newspaper. The talks reportedly took place as recently as this month but aren't likely to be revived, the Journal said.

6. -- Oracle ( ORCL) is expected by analysts to report on Thursday fiscal fourth-quarter earnings of 87 cents a share on revenue of $11.12 billion.

Investors will be watching to see whether the tough IT environment is continuing for the software giant.

7. -- Facebook's ( FB) ability to deliver ads to mobile phones, improvements in measuring the effectiveness of its ads and increasing user engagement all have put the company in a better position than before its fumbled IPO last year, the social networking giant's Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg told the Reuters Global Technology Summit on Wednesday.

8. -- Sony ( SNE) CEO Kazuo Hirai told shareholders the Japanese electronics giant is taking seriously a proposal from hedge fund Third Point to spin off a part of its entertainment business but a decision won't be made quickly.

"This is an important proposal that will influence the future of Sony," he said. "This will take time, and we are not going to come to a conclusion for the sake of coming to a conclusion."

9. -- Kroger ( KR), the U.S. grocery chain, is forecast by Wall Street to post on Thursday first-quarter profit of 88 cents a share.

10. -- SandRidge Energy ( SD) founder and CEO Tom Ward was dismissed after an investigation over a controversial deal but will receive a severance payment of more than $90 million in cash and stock.

-- Written by Joseph Woelfel

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