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%.

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.

5.
 -- 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.

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