Aug. 20 Premarket Briefing: 10 Things You Should Know

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Here are 10 things you should know for Wednesday, Aug. 20:

1. -- U.S. stock futures were mixed early Wednesday ahead of minutes from the latest meeting of the Federal Reserve's policy-making committee.

European stocks pared gains accrued earlier this week as investors focused on the Federal Reserve's next move and as German price data pointed to subdued growth.

Stock in Tokyo and Hong Kong rose.

2. -- The economic calendar in the U.S. on Wednesday includes the minutes from the July meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee at 2 p.m. EDT.

3. -- U.S. stocks on Tuesday stretched out early gains to the close on Tuesday, with the S&P 500 gaining 2.66% in so far in August, The gains came as many economists and market participants continued to bet that the Federal Reserve will keep communicating a more dovish stance despite rising chatter on inflation and a consistently healthy economic recovery.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.48% to close at 16,919.59. The S&P 500 gained 0.5% to 1,981.60. The Nasdaq rose 0.43% to 4,527.51.

4. -- Allergan (AGN) approached Salix Pharmaceuticals (SLXP) and at least one other company about a potential acquisition, as the Botox maker seeks to fend off a $53 billion hostile takeover from Valeant Pharmaceuticals (VRX) , The Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

While it's unclear where the talks stand, Allergan could strike a takeover deal with Salix or another unknown party as early as next month, one of the people told the Journal.

Valeant in April teamed up with activist investor William Ackman, who owns a big stake in Allergan, to pursue a cash-and-stock takeover of the company. 

5. -- Citigroup (C) is considering selling its consumer-banking business in Japan, two people with knowledge of the matter told Bloomberg.

The bank, which earns the most international revenue of any U.S. lender, has begun approaching Japanese firms including the three largest lenders, trust banks and regional lenders to gauge their interest, one of the people said. Citigroup could start a bidding process next month, the people told Bloomberg.

Citigroup's 33 branches in Japan represent less than 1% of its global total, according to Bloomberg.

6. -- Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) is expected by Wall Street on Wednesday to report fiscal third-quarter earnings of 89 cents a share on revenue of $27 billion.

HP continues to remake itself under CEO Meg Whitman, slashing costs and boosting sales of personal computers.

HP's largest segment by revenue remains personal computers, with sales in its personal systems group growing 7% in the fiscal second quarter from a year earlier.

7. -- Lowe's (LOW)   posted second-quarter earnings of $1.04 a share on sales of $16.6 billion, up from year-earlier sales of $15.7 billion.

Analysts expected the home-improvement retailer and chief rival to Home Depot (HD) to report second-quarter earnings of $1.02 a share on revenue of $16.55 billion.

Lowe's reduced its forecast for sales in fiscal 2014, saying it expects total sales to rise 4.5%; it previously estimated sales growth of 5%.

8. -- Retailer Target (TGT) is forecast to report earnings of 79 cents a share in the second quarter on sales of $17.38 billion.

Target has yet to fully emerge from its data breach that impacted 70 million customers. But it has hired a new CEO, Brian Cornell, and the stock has bottomed.

9. -- Steve Ballmer, the former CEO of Microsoft (MSFT) , is stepping down from the company's board.

Ballmer spent 34 years with the software giant.

He said he plans to devote more time to his ownership of the Los Angeles Clippers, civic contributions, study and teaching business at Stanford in the fall and USC next spring.

Ballmer said he plans to hold on to his Microsoft stock. His 4% stake in the company makes him the largest individual shareholder. 

10. -- Snapchat, the messaging app, could soon be a service for disappearing TV and movie clips, news articles and advertisements.

The startup has held talks with advertisers and media companies in recent weeks about a service called Snapchat Discovery that would show content and ads to Snapchat users, the Journal reported, citing people briefed on the discussions.

Snapchat Discovery is set to debut in November, one of the people told the newspaper.

At least a dozen media companies, including newspapers, magazines and television networks, have discussed providing content for Snapchat Discovery, the person told the Journal.

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