What to watch for today
John Kerry meets Vladimir Putin in Moscow. Syria and Iran will be on the agenda, though perhaps the US secretary of state should begin by congratulating Putin on the first anniversary of his third term as president.
Will the Mouse roar? Entertainment giant Disney reports quarterly results after the close of US trading. Investors will be eager to see whether company cash cows such as ESPN will live up to the performance of the company’s shares, which have risen more than 50% over the past year.
Credit where credit is due. An update is due on US consumer borrowing for March. The last iteration of this report showed car and college loans rising fast.
A North Korea policy. US President Barack Obama and South Korea’s Park Geun-hye, on her first foreign trip as president, discuss their chief matter of mutual concern. North Korea yesterday moved two missiles away from a coastal launch site, indicating a further lowering of tensions on the peninsula.
Can you hear them calling? An ABBA museum is set to open in Stockholm.
While you were sleeping
France faces a triple-dip. French industrial output in March fell 0.9% from February’s 0.8% gain, adding to Francois Hollande’s woes as he tries to revive the economy. March factory orders in Germany, also out today, are expected to have shrunk as well.
Microsoft admitted Windows 8 needs an overhaul. The PC-meets-tablet operating system just isn’t doing it for many consumers. Expect a more familiar interface in the next update later this year.
HSBC’s Q1 profit doubled. Pre-tax profit at Europe’s largest bank hit $8.43 billion, up from $4.32 billion last year, as the effects of CEO Stuart Gulliver’s cost-cutting measures kick in.
Diageo got a new boss. Paul Walsh will retire after 13 years in charge. Ivan Menezes, presently the chief operating officer of the maker of Guinness, will take over on July 1.
The Nikkei hit 14,000 this morning. The last time that happened was in the halcyon days of June, 2008.
Australia’s trade balance swung back to surplus. The figures for March showed a healthy balance of A$307 million (US$314 million) in Australia’s favour, from a deficit of A$111 million in February.
Scrappy start-up Aereo sued CBS. Online television-streaming service Aereo asked a federal court to rule that it doesn’t violate copyright law, in order to prevent more CBS lawsuits in other US jurisdictions.
Quartz obsession interlude
Lily Kuo on the rise of China’s truly bizarre architectural aesthetic. ”China’s modern architectural sensibility, in some ways, is still in its infancy. The industry has only begun emerging over the past 30 years during the country’s economic reform and opening up, after decades of following Soviet-style city design. Today, there is about one architect for every 40,000 people in China. (In Italy, the proportion is more like 1:400). And the newness of it all, Wu Liangyong, a member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Chinese Academy of Engineering said, means the People’s Republic is now seeing a surge of demand for the avant-garde and novel—no matter how tacky.” Read more here.
Matters of debate
Rising US house prices might not generate as much consumer spending as they once did. The so-called wealth effect has been constrained by a dearth of cash-out refinancing.
Were English and Japanese once the same language? Researchers in Britain think they were, about 15,000 years ago.
Patenting human genes is wrong. It inhibits innovation, blocks access to knowledge, and may cost lives.
Jamie Dimon should give up the chairmanship at JP Morgan. The CEO shouldn’t run the board as well.
The shorter your first name, the bigger your salary. Listen, Christopher, there’s nothing wrong with being called Chris.
Private schools are on sale. US private colleges and universities offered record price cuts via grants and scholarships, averaging 45% last autumn, amid worries they’ve become too expensive.
Corruption watch. Exports of Swiss watches to China tumbled 23% early this year, amid a Chinese crackdown on “gifts” to public officials.
Porn overload. Some 12% of websites are pornographic (paywall).
Well played. Al Gore is worth almost as much as Mitt Romney.