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China slows and HP earnings — 5 things to know today

May 21, 2015, 10:50 AM UTC
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Hewlett-Packard CEO Meg Whitman laughs as she speaks with members of the business community at the Boise Centre, Wednesday, Oct. 22, 2014 in Boise, Idaho. (AP Photo/The Idaho Statesman, Kyle Green) LOCAL TELEVISION OUT (KTVB 7); MANDATORY CREDIT
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Hello friends and Fortune readers.

Wall Street stock futures are lower this morning after purchasing manger surveys in China and the Eurozone disappointed. The dollar is also lower while oil futures are up after data showing a drop in U.S. inventories crude stocks last week.

Today’s must-read article is from Fortune‘s Michal Lev-Ram and it is the inside story of how Comcast (CMCSA) has alienated its competitors, partners, and even its own customers, in the years leading up to the recent implosion of the failed takeover of Time Warner Cable (TWC).

Here’s what else you need to know today.

1. The world economy had a disappointing April.

Activity in China’s manufacturing sector shrunk at its fastest rate in over a year, while a slowdown in Germany meant that the Eurozone also slowed down in May (although it continued to grow). Analysts said the figures suggest the authorities in Beijing will need to add more stimulus or risk missing their 7% growth target.

2. Hewlett-Packard reports earnings

The world’s second-biggest PC manufacturer reports its second-quarter earnings this afternoon and investors will be looking to see if the strong U.S. dollar significantly weighed down HP’s (HPQ) total sales. The company, which gets a large chunk of its revenue overseas, is expected to report about a 6% dip in second-quarter revenue.

3. Apparel retailers earnings

Gap Inc. (GPS) is expected to report declining first-quarter profits after the retailer already released disappointing sales numbers for the period. Gap, which again has blamed some of its troubles on the strong U.S. dollar and the recent labor slowdown at West Coast ports, dumped online brand Piperlime earlier this year to focus more on its major brands, including its namesake stores and Old Navy. Meanwhile, teen clothing retailer Aeropostale (ARO) also reports first-quarter results this afternoon.

4. E-commerce IPOs

The initial offering of China’s Baozun, an Alibaba Group-backed e-commerce services company, could bring in $129 million today. That would value Baozun at about $632 million. Meanwhile, Shopify is also launching its IPO today. The Canadian tech company, which makes software used by online stores and point-of-sale systems, is expected to raise up to $108 million in its market debut.

5. Weekly jobless claims

The U.S. Labor Department is expected to report a small increase in weekly jobless claims today, with the total number of claims jumping to 271,000 last week. There were 264,000 filed the previous week, which was the lowest level in nearly 15 years.

[Reuters contributed to this report.]