Stocks: 5 things to know before the open

Is the worst over for stocks?
Is the worst over for stocks?

Thursday could be a very interesting day. There's a ton going on in the markets.

Here are the five key things you need to know before the opening bell rings in New York:

1. M&A on my mind: Two powerful Chinese Internet startups -- essentially the Yelp and Groupon of China -- have joined forces in a deal that is reported to be worth $15 billion.

The firms -- Meituan and Dianping -- said Thursday that they would jointly establish a new company. Meituan and Dianping are backed by tech giants Alibaba (BABA) and Tencent (TCEHY).

In the U.S., Dell and data-storage firm EMC (EMC) are reportedly in discussions about a business combination. Shares in EMC surged by about 8% in extended trading after the merger chatter began.

And in Europe, investors are still waiting for more news on whether AB InBev (BUD) and SABMiller (SBMRY) will merge.

2. Market overview: U.S. stock futures are sinking and the overall market mood is muted.

European markets are mixed in early trading. Asian markets also ended with mixed results.

In China, stock markets reopened after an extended holiday and the key indexes rose by 3% to 4%.

"The Chinese equity market re-opened and bounced, but not as much as some hoped," noted Kit Juckes, a global strategist at Societe Generale.

Related: Fear & Greed Index

3. Market movers -- Deutsche Bank, Fiat Chrysler, Volkswagen: Shares in Deutsche Bank (DB) are swinging wildly between losses and gains in Germany after the bank revealed it will book a nearly $7 billion loss in the third quarter for a write down related to its corporate banking unit.

Shares in Fiat Chrysler (FCAU) are rallying by about 4% in Europe after the United Auto Workers union said it reached a tentative agreement with the automaker. This could avert a strike by 40,000 workers.

Shares in Volkswagen (VLKAY) could see higher-than-normal trading activity when the head of the firm's U.S. business -- Michael Horn -- appears before U.S. lawmakers at 10 a.m. ET to face questions on the automaker's emissions scandal.

Related: The Volkswagen scandal in two minutes

4. Earnings and economics: Domino's Pizza (DPUKY) will report quarterly earnings before the opening bell. Then after markets close, investors will hear from Alcoa (AA) and Ruby Tuesday (RT).

On the economic front, the Federal Reserve's Open Market Committee will post the minutes from its September meeting at 2 p.m. ET. Investors will parse through these notes for more information about the Fed's plans for a future rate hike.

In Germany, there was some disconcerting data showing a 5% slump in exports between August and July. That's the biggest monthly decline in exports since January 2009. It's also worth noting that this is before the Volkswagen scandal emerged in September.

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5. Wednesday market recap: The main stock market indexes were on a roll Wednesday. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 0.7%, the S&P 500 jumped 0.8% and the Nasdaq climbed up 0.9%.

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