What to watch for today
Will Asian and European markets be less jittery? The US markets, having been spooked by Fed chairman Ben Bernanke’s comments on Wednesday, managed to recover some of their losses on Thursday on strong US economic data. But that may not translate to other world markets given worries about China’s growth.
Kuroda tries to calm Japan. Bank of Japan governor Haruhiko Kuroda gives a speech at the International Conference on the Future of Asia. The event comes a day after the Nikkei fell 7.3%, its biggest drop in two years.
Germans still feeling blue. The latest report from the Ifo Institute on business confidence (video) in Germany will likely show continued stagnation. The National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies issues a similar report for the business climate in France.
While you were sleeping
The US economy is going strong. Weekly jobless claims fell while new home sales in April came in better than expected at 454,000.
Gap closed the gap. The clothing retailer reported a 43% year-on-year rise in net earnings for the first quarter, recovering from a sluggish last couple of years. Part of the secret: colored skinny jeans.
Another knock to Spanish banks. They’ll have to set aside a further €10 billion ($13 billion) to allow for loans that aren’t likely to be repaid (paywall).
Stockholm continued to burn. Despite appeals for calm from residents, at least 30 cars were set on fire in a fourth night of mayhem. The unrest in Sweden’s capital has come from poor, immigrant communities, which have high youth unemployment and other economic woes.
The US will be more careful about whom it kills with drones. President Barack Obama announced stricter rules on the use of drone strikes in a new counterterrorism policy, as well as moves to get more prisoners out of Guantánamo Bay.
Suicide bombers struck Niger. At least 20 people were killed in attacks that targeted army barracks and a French-run uranium mine. The MUJWA Islamist militant group took responsibility.
Israel moved towards a showdown on the military draft. A government-appointed commission presented controversial proposals for ending most of the exemptions for army service that ultra-Orthodox seminary students currently enjoy.
Quartz obsession interlude
Todd Woody on why South Korea decided to go it alone on cap-and-trade. “With a belligerent, nuclear-armed neighbor led by a messianic millennial on its border, you’d think that reducing greenhouse gas emissions would rank low on South Korea’s to-do list. Yet the country plans to launch the world’s most ambitious carbon-trading market in a bid to cut its planet-warming spew 30% by 2020.” Read more here.
Matters of debate
Germany is the most positively viewed country in the world. And the least? Iran.
India’s education system will never be like America’s. In some ways, it’s better.
iPads should be in every classroom. That’s because traditional classrooms don’t work.
Iranian elections don’t have to be fair and free for the people to be excited to vote.
America’s natural gas boom means manufacturing will move from China to the US.
Churchill and Stalin got trashed together. The British official who chronicled the wartime drinking session called the mood “merry as a marriage-bell.”
Nine-year-old chides McDonald’s CEO about its unhealthy food. (His response: “My kids also eat McDonald’s.”)
Mutant cockroaches are getting smarter. They have learned to stay away from sugar to avoid traps.
Czech police seized a million liters of illegal booze. The ethanol was hidden in under-floor tanks and worth about €12 million ($15.45 million) in tax revenues.
Google to add Galapagos Islands to Street View. It took 10 days of hiking to map it out.