Morning Briefing: 10 Things You Should Know

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Here are 10 things you should know for Wednesday, July 31:

1. -- U.S. stock futures were flat to slightly higher Wednesday as the Federal Reserve wraps up its two-day meeting and ahead of a day filled with economic data.

The Fed isn't expected to announce any big changes when it issues its latest policy statement. But investors will be looking for clues as to when the central bank might begin pulling back on its monetary stimulus.

European stocks were rising Wednesday while Asian shares finished the trading session mostly lower. Japan's Nikkei 225 index declined 1.5%.

2. -- The economic calendar in the U.S. Wednesday includes the ADP Employment Change index for July at 8:15 a.m. EDT, advanced gross domestic product for the second quarter at 8:30 a.m., Chicago PMI at 9:45 a.m., and the rate decision from the Federal Open Market Committee at 2 p.m.

3. -- U.S. stocks on Tuesday ended mixed as the Fed presidents began their two-day meeting.

The S&P 500 rose 0.04% to 1,685.96 while the Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 0.01% to 15,520.59. The Nasdaq added 0.48% to 3,616.47.

4. -- Cubist Pharmaceuticals ( CBST) is making an aggressive move to expand its antibiotic business, by acquiring Optimer Pharmaceuticals ( OPTR) and Trius Therapeutics ( TSRX).

The deals are valued at $801 million and $818 million, if certain milestones are reached, respectively.

Cubist already markets the antibiotic Cubicin but once the two deals close the company will control Optimer's currently approved antibiotic Dificid as well as Trius' late-stage antibiotic candidate tedizolid.

5. -- Whole Foods Market ( WFM), the grocery chain, is expected by Wall Street on Wednesday to post fiscal third-quarter earnings of 37 cents a share on sales of $3.09 billion.

6. -- MasterCard ( MA), the credit card company, is forecast by Wall Street to report second-quarter earnings of $6.30 a share on revenue of $2 billion.

7. -- Cable giant Comcast ( CMCSA) is expected to post profit of 63 cents a share in the second quarter on revenue of $16.01 billion.

8. -- Activist investor William Ackman is set to announce Wednesday his firm's largest-ever investment, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Ackman's firm, Pershing Square Capital Management, is investing more than $2 billion in a U.S.-based industrial company, people familiar with the matter told the newspaper. The identity of the company remained unclear Tuesday.

The investment will represent nearly 10% of the company, which has a market capitalization of more than $20 billion, the people told the Journal.

9. -- Accenture ( ACN), the consulting company, is in talks to acquire smaller rival Booz & Co., people familiar with the matter told the Journal.

Booz employs about 3,000 people and had revenue of about $1.4 billion in 2012.

10. -- Facebook ( FB) shares rose 6.2% on Tuesday to close at $37.61, within pennies of its initial public offering price of $38 price in May 2012.

The stock of the social networking giant rose as high as $37.96 in trading Tuesday afternoon.

-- Written by Joseph Woelfel

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