Morning Briefing: 10 Things You Should Know

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Here are 10 things you should know for Wednesday, June 26:

1. -- U.S. stock futures were pointing higher, suggesting Wall Street would open with gains on Wednesday following strong economic data from the U.S.

European stocks were rising while Asian shares ended mixed Wednesday after suffering sharp losses earlier in the week. Japan's Nikkei 225 index fell 1% to close at 12,834.01.

2. -- The economic calendar in the U.S. Wednesday includes the third estimate of first-quarter gross domestic product at 8:30 a.m. EDT.

3. -- U.S. stocks on Tuesday finished higher as better-than-expected new-home sales and encouraging data on durable-goods orders bolstered the outlook for recovery in the world's largest economy.

The S&P 500 rose 0.95% to 1,588.03 while the Dow Jones Industrial Average advanced 0.69% to 14,760.31. The Nasdaq tacked on 0.82% to 3,347.89.

4. -- Microsoft ( MSFT) is making the Windows 8.1 update free for download starting Wednesday, eight months since desktops, laptops and tablets with Windows 8 went on sale.

The free update is expected to address some of the gripes people have with the latest version of Microsoft's flagship operating system.

Developers will get a chance to try out the new OS at the three-day Build conference, which begins Wednesday in San Francisco. There's also speculation that Microsoft could show off a new, smaller version of its Surface tablet computers, according to The Associated Press..

5. -- BP ( BP), the British oil giant, placed full-page advertisements in The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday to challenge what could be billions of dollars in settlement payouts to businesses following the Gulf of Mexico oil spill in 2010.

In the ad, BP accused "trial lawyers and some politicians" of encouraging businesses to submit thousands of claims for inflated or non-existent losses.

"Whatever you think about BP, we can all agree that it's wrong for anyone to take money they don't deserve," the ad said. "And it's unfair to everyone in the Gulf -- commercial fishermen, restaurant and hotel owners, and all the other hard-working people who've filed legitimate claims for real losses."

6. -- Monsanto ( MON), the agriculture company, is expected by analysts to report on Wednesday fiscal third-quarter earnings of $1.60 a share on revenue of $4.41 billion.

7. -- Wall Street expects General Mills ( GIS), the maker of Cheerios, to post fiscal fourth-quarter profit of 53 cents a share on revenue of $4.32 billion.

8. -- Men's Wearhouse ( MW) elaborated on Tuesday why it abruptly fired its founder and Chairman George Zimmer a week earlier.

"Mr. Zimmer had difficulty accepting the fact that Men's Wearhouse is a public company with an independent board of directors and that he has not been the Chief Executive Officer for two years," a statement from the clothing retailer said. "He advocated for significant changes that would enable him to regain control, but ultimately he was unable to convince any of the board members or senior executives that his positions were in the best interests of employees, shareholders or the company's future."

Reports Tuesday said Zimmer was "mulling his options," potentially including a comeback.

9. -- Bed Bath & Beyond ( BBBY), the housewares retailer, is forecast to report earnings of 93 cents a share in the first quarter on sales of $2.6 billion.

10. -- Marc Rich, the legendary commodities trader who is credited with inventing modern day oil trading, has died. He was 78.

Rich , the founder of the group that became Glencore, was forced to flee the U.S. in the 1980s after allegedly taking advantage of the 1980 U.S. embargo against Iran to profit from illicit Iranian oil sales. He was pardoned by President Bill Clinton in 2001.

-- Written by Joseph Woelfel

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

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Copyright 2013 Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. AP contributed to this report.

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