J&J Faces $3 Billion Settlement, iPad Sales Fall in China: Morning Buzzers

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U.S. stock futures fell Wednesday morning, as the minutes from the Federal Reserve’s July 30-31 meeting investors have been waiting for are set to be released. Earnings from Target (NYSE:TGT) and Staples (NASDAQ:SPLS) disappointed, while Lowe’s (NYSE:LOW) followed Home Depot (NYSE:HD) in reporting better-than-expected earnings boosted by the improving housing market.

Futures at 8:30 a.m.: DJIA: -0.21%, S&P 500: -0.20%, NASDAQ: -0.19%.

Here’s your cheat sheet to what’s buzzing Wednesday morning.

Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) is reportedly in talks to pay up to $3 billion to settle 11,500 lawsuits related to its recalled ASR hip implant. The implants were recalled in 2010 after over 12 percent of them failed within five years. That figure keeps climbing, along with the number of people filing suits against the company. The company would like the suits to be settled by the beginning of next year, but if plaintiffs don’t settle for the proposed $300,000 each, litigation could continue.

Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ) will report earnings after the bell today, and analysts are expecting the company to continue to show it has been hit hard by the slumping PC market. Earnings per share are expected to be 86 cents, down from $1 a year ago, with revenue falling 8 percent to $27.3 billion. Investors are also waiting to hear more updates on the company’s restructuring, which was announced in May 2012. Those feeling optimistic about the stock believe HP’s cloud and software offerings could help to counter losses in the PC market.

Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPad share in China took a nosedive in the second quarter, according to new data from IDC. The iPad accounted for 28 percent of shipments to China in the quarter, down from 49 percent a year ago. Cheaper tablets built by Samsung (SSNLF.PK) and others running on Google’s (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android operating system have eaten away at Apple’s market share in China. A similar phenomenon has already been seen with smartphones, as Android-based phones have cut down on the iPhone’s market share.

PG&E (NASDAQ:PGC) is facing a $2.25 billion fine related to a deadly natural gas pipeline explosion that occurred in September 2010 and killed eight people. That fine would push the company into bankruptcy for the second time in 12 years. California regulators must decide if pursuing the fine is worth bankrupting the state’s largest utility company.

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