May 22 Premarket Briefing: 10 Things You Should Know

Updated from 6:51 a.m. EDT

Here are 10 things you should know for Thursday, May 22:

1. -- U.S. stock futures were rising Thursday and Asian shares ended mostly higher after a manufacturing survey suggested the slowdown in China's economy is flattening out.

European stocks were flat.

Japan's Nikkei 225 index gained 2.1%. China's Shanghai Composite Index dipped 0.2%.

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

3. -- U.S. stocks on Wednesday advanced as investors cheered meeting minutes of the Federal Reserve's policy-making arm, which didn't signal a move to raise the benchmark interest rate any time soon.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 0.97% to close at 16,533.06, while the S&P 500 rose 0.81% to 1,888.03. The Nasdaq jumped 0.85% to 4,131.54.

4. -- Tobacco companies Reynolds American (RAI) and Lorillard (LO) are in advanced merger talks, according to reports.

Reynolds American is the second-largest tobacco company in the U.S., while Lorillard is the third-largest. No. 1 Altria has a 50% share of the U.S. tobacco market.

The potential takeover would combine Reynolds brands such as Camel and Pall Mall with Lorillard's Newport, the top-selling menthol cigarette. It also would give Reynolds a commanding position in the fast-developing market for electronic cigarettes, according to The Wall Street Journal. Lorillard's blu e-cigarette has nearly a 50% market share in U.S. gasoline and convenience stores.

Reynolds shares weren't active in premarket trading on Thursdaay. Lorillard shares dipped 3 cents.

 -- Printer and computer maker Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) is forecast after Thursday's closing bell to report fiscal second-quarter earnings of 88 cents a share on revenue of $27.41 billion.

HP's earnings will be closely watched by investors as they look to see whether CEO Meg Whitman can continue to cut costs and turnaround one of Silicon Valley's most prestigious companies.

6. -- McDonald's (MCD) is scheduled to hold its annual shareholders' meeting on Thursday, where it is expected to be confronted on issues over low pay for fast-food workers, the company's executive pay packages and marketing to children.

Protesters were arrested on Wednesday after refusing to leave corporate property outside McDonald's headquarters.

7. -- Electronics retailer Best Buy (BBY) posted first-quarter adjusted profit of 33 cents a share, which was ahead of Wall Street expectations. Sales fell 3.3% to $9.04 billion, below forecasts of $9.21 billion. 

The stock fell 5.3% in premarket trading to $24.02 after Best Buy said it expects same-store sales declines in the second and third quarters.

8. -- Vivendi, the French conglomerate, said it planned to sell half its stake in Activision Blizzard (ATVI).

Vivendi will sell 41.5 million shares of the video game publisher. The offering is expected to close on May 28.

The stake is worth about $866 million based on Activision's closing price Wednesday of $20.87.

9. -- The initial public offering for Chinese online retailer was priced above expectations as it raised almost $1.8 billion.

In the offering, 93.7 million American depositary shares were sold for $19 each. It was indicated the IPO would be priced at between $16 and $18 a share.

 -- Unilever (UL) said it agreed to sell ownership of its Ragu and Bertolli brand sauces in North America to Japan's Mizkan Group for $2.15 billion.

>> Read More: Don't Even Think About Selling Facebook

>> Read More: Apple's 7:1 Stock Split: Take a Bite Before June 2

>>Read More: Hedge Funds Hate These 5 Stocks - Should You?

-- Written by Joseph Woelfel

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

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Follow @josephwoe58


Copyright 2014 Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. AP contributed to this report.

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