1. -- U.S. stock futures turned slightly lower Wednesday and European stocks maintained gains as investors tried to look past global political tensions and instead focused to first-quarter earnings season, which will kick off in earnest on Thursday with reports from JPMorgan Chase (JPM) , Citigroup (C) and Wells Fargo (WFC) .
Geopolitical uncertainty has made for choppy trading over the past several sessions, particularly on worries over how Donald Trump will handle increasing tensions on the Korean Peninsula, and in Syria. That uncertainty led stocks lower on Tuesday, with the S&P 500 falling 0.14%, the Dow Jones Industrial Average declining 0.03%, and the Nasdaq slipping 0.24%.
The economic calendar in the U.S. on Wednesday includes Import and Export Prices for March at 8:30 a.m. EDT, and weekly Oil Inventories at 10:30 a.m.
Dallas Federal Reserve Bank President Robert Kaplan is scheduled to participate in a Q&A at the Cornerstone Credit Union League Annual Meeting in Fort Worth, Texas, at 10 a.m.
Delta Air Lines (DAL) reported first-quarter adjusted earnings of 77 cents a share, topping forecasts by 2 cents. Delta said traffic in the first quarter rose 0.5% and capacity dipped 0.5%.
The stock gained 1.6% in premarket trading on Wednesday.
2. -- United Airlines (UAL) CEO Oscar Munoz offered a stronger apology after a 69-year-old passenger was pulled from his seat and dragged down the aisle, and said the airline would review its policies.
The incident, caught on cellphone video which has gone viral, has become a public-relations nightmare for United. On Monday, Munoz apologized for the incident but also blamed the passenger, David Dao, a doctor from Elizabethtown, Ky., for not obeying when airline employees asked him to leave. Munoz called the man "disruptive and belligerent."
On Tuesday, however, Munoz apologized again, this time calling the incident a "truly horrific event," adding that, "No one should ever be mistreated this way." He promised a review of airline policies by April 30 and vowed to "fix what's broken so this never happens again." The CEO said United would reassess policies for seeking volunteers to give up their seats, for handling oversold situations and for partnering with airport authorities and local law enforcement.
Shares of United Continental, the parent of United Airlines, fell 1.1% on Tuesday and were declining another 0.5% in premarket trading on Wednesday as investors wondered whether the criticism will hurt the airline as the busy summer travel season nears.
3. -- Rachel Whetstone, Uber's head of communications, will leave the ride-hailing company, as it too works through its own public relations crises.
Uber CEO Travis Kalanick announced Whetstone's departure in a memo to staff on Tuesday.
Whetstone is leaving Uber following the departure in recent weeks of two other high-level executives.
Uber came under fire at the end of January, when Kalanick agreed to join Donald Trump's business council. #DeleteUber led 200,000 users to delete the app in protest after Uber failed to participate in a New York City Taxi Worker's Alliance protest against the immigration ban at the John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York. The company also has faced allegations of sexual harassment as well as the release of a video of Kalanick arguing with a driver about driver compensation. When President Jeff Jones resigned, he cited citing "multiple controversies."
(What will move markets this quarter and how should investors position themselves ahead of time? Jim Cramer sat down with four of TheStreet's top columnists recently to get their views. Click here to listen to his latest Trading Strategies roundtable with them and read their advice for stocks, bonds, forex and gold).
4. -- Akzo Nobel (AKZOY) accused one of its biggest shareholders of planning to share price-sensitive information with rival PPG Industries (PPG) and rejected calls for the dismissal of its chairman amid an increasingly hostile takeover showdown.
Akzo Nobel said Elliott Advisors, which has been pushing for a meeting between the two companies to hammer out a deal after two takeover bids were rejected by the Dutch chemicals group, "intended to privately share potentially price sensitive information with PPG about its decision to request an (extraordinary general meeting)."
"Akzo Nobel has shared this information with the Dutch Authority for the Financial Markets (AFM) and calls on Elliott Advisors and PPG to clarify their relationship and the history of the communications between the two companies," the company said in a statement.
Elliott owns 3.25% of the equity interest in Akzo Nobel via its U.K. division.
The company said it would consider the request for the meeting, as is required under Dutch law, and respond to Elliott within 14 days. However, Akoz Nobel also said that any attempt to remove Chairman Antony Burgmans would be "irresponsible, disproportionate, damaging and not in the best interest of the company, its shareholders and other stakeholders. Therefore the proposed agenda item to remove Mr. Burgmans will be rejected."
Marc Lore, head of Walmart's e-commerce operations, told Reuters in an interview on Tuesday he expects the move to boost transactions online and improve customer traffic in stores.
"This is a very material change in the value proposition we are offering customers," he told Reuters.
Online orders picked up in store already qualify for no shipping charges since the retailer saves on shipping fees. The latest discounts come on top of that, Reuters noted.
Lore told Reuters that Walmart is able to offer these discounts as it's able to eliminate delivery costs by leveraging its fleet of more than 6,700 trucks to deliver products from warehouses to stores.