Here are 10 things you should know for Wednesday, Dec. 4: 

1.-- U.S. stock futures were pointing to slight gains on Wall Street on Wednesday, despite a sharp decline for Japanese equities amid worries over a reduction to stimulus from the Federal Reserve.

Japan's Nikkei 225 index fell 2.2% to 15,407.94. Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell 0.8% but China's Shanghai Composite rose 1.3%. 

European markets rose modestly early Wednesday.

2.-- The economic calendar in the U.S. Wednesday includes the ADP Employment Change Index for November at 8:15 a.m. EST, the trade balance for October at 8:30 a.m., new-home sales for September and October at 10 a.m., and the ISM Services Index for November at 10 a.m.

3.-- U.S. stocks on Tuesday extended recent losses as equity traders struggled to gauge the direction of the U.S. economic recovery. 

The S&P 500 fell 0.32% to close at 1,795.15, the Dow Jones Industrial Average declined 0.59% to 15,914.62 and the Nasdaq slipped 0.2% to 4,037.20 

4.--  A group of big European and American banks will be fined a record 1.7 billion euros ($2.3 billion) by the European Commission for the rigging of interest-rate benchmarks, a source familiar with the matter told Reuters.

The banks to be fined are Citigroup (C), Deutsche Bank (DB), Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), JPMorgan Chase (JPM), Barclays (BCS) and Societe Generale, sources said.

The penalty is the biggest to be handed down to banks or rigging the benchmarks used to determine the cost of lending, Reuters noted.

5.-- U.S. regulators are expected to approve next week a toughened version of the Volcker rule, with restrictions on the trading banks can do with their own money, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Four of the five agencies wrestling over the rule since it was proposed by President Obama in January 2010 said Tuesday they will vote Dec. 10 on a finished version of the trading curbs. The Securities and Exchange Commission is likely to take action "on or about" the same day, SEC Chairman Mary Jo White told the Journal.

The votes are expected to result in tighter restrictions on certain trading activities that go beyond what regulators had agreed to just a few weeks ago, the Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter. 

6.-- J.C. Penney (JCP), the beleaguered department store chain, said comparable-store sales in November jumped 10.1%. Last month, J.C. Penney reported the first positive comparable-store sales numbers since December 2011.

The November period included the all-important Thanksgiving weekend sales.

7.
-- Sears  (SHLD) Chairman and CEO Eddie Lampert reduced his stake in the retailer to less than half, according to a regulatory filing.

Lampert now owns 48.4% of Sears, or 51.6 million shares, down from his prior stake of 55.4%.

Lampert remains the largest shareholder in the department store chain.

8.-- General Motors  (GM) said Wednesday that it and its venture partners sold sold 294,500 vehicles in China in November, a 13.3% increase from a year earlier. GM sold 2.89 million vehicles over the first 11 months of 2013, up 11.4% from last year.

9.-- Struggling teen retailer Aeropostale (ARO) is expected by analysts on Wednesday to report a third-quarter loss of 24 cents a share on revenue of $520.2 million.

10.-- A New York state parole board agreed Tuesday to release former Tyco CEO Dennis Kozlowski on parole after more than eight years in prison for his conviction in a $134 million corporate fraud case.

His tentative release date is Jan. 17, though Kozlowski has been in the state's work-release program with a clerical job and, for months, only reporting back twice weekly to minimum-security Lincoln Correctional Facility in Harlem, The Associated Press reported.

-- Written by Joseph Woelfel

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

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Copyright 2013 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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