What to watch for today
Rising US spending power. Retail sales probably rose 0.4% in August, thanks to strong car sales. But consumer sentiment is likely to have dipped in September. The strength of consumer spending, which accounts for 70% of the US economy, will be a factor in the Federal Reserve’s decision next week on reducing its stimulus program.
Building spurt in the UK. The construction sector grew at its fastest pace in six years in July, according to the latest data. If August was similarly robust (paywall), it will feed into the increasing cheer in Britain.
Europe discusses a banking union. Top policymakers will discuss the broad aspects of the union, but are unlikely to get into the nitty-gritty. The project got a boost on Thursday when the European parliament agreed to give the European Central Bank oversight of 130 of the region’s largest banks.
It’s Friday the 13th. Here’s a look at the cultural and religious roots of the superstition that scares people so much and costs the US an estimated $800-900 million in lost business each time.
While you were sleeping
Syria: Claims, doubts and demands. The Syrian government said it had become a part of the Chemical Weapons Convention, but it’s not clear that it’s met the conditions yet. The US insisted that Syria quickly disclose all data about its arsenal.
Twitter set its IPO in motion… The social media giant announced—in a tweet, naturally—that it had submitted a confidential filing for an initial public offering, which allows companies with under $1 billion in revenue to keep their financials secret for longer. Goldman Sachs is reportedly the lead underwriter, but whether Twitter will list on the NYSE or the Nasdaq isn’t known yet.
…and so did Hilton. Private-equity giant Blackstone, which owns the world’s largest hotel chain, is selling off a small stake—partly so Hilton can pay down its debt, but mainly to give Blackstone, which probably overpaid for Hilton in 2007, a boost in its returns.
Vodafone’s call to Kabel Deutschland got connected. More than 75% of the German cable group’s shareholders approved Vodafone’s €7.7 billion ($10 billion) offer for the company. The deal still needs the clearance from the European Commission.
Michael Dell got control of his baby. Around 65% of Dell’s shareholders approved the sale of the company to its founder for $24.9 billion, ending the prolonged public feud with activist investor Carl Icahn over whether the PC-maker should stay public.
North Korea may have restarted its nuclear reactor. Satellite images from the Yongbyon nuclear facility suggest that the reactor has been restarted, according to US-based researchers. Pyongyang had threatened to restart the facility in April, amid regional tensions.
Quartz obsession interlude
Matt Phillips on why the biggest bond deal ever from Verizon might mark the end of the easy money era. “Now the size of the deal would likely mean that Verizon would have to pay some kind of premium. (For a $49 billion offering to succeed, it needs to coax a lot of people to buy.) But it’s also true that investors have been starting to move away from fixed-income products and tilt their money a bit more back into stocks. Such dynamics should, by rights, translate into higher borrowing costs for corporates.” Read more here.
Matters of debate
Obama is walking right into Putin’s trap. The proposal to secure and destroy Syria’s chemical weapons will be a waste of US time and resources.
This is the best time for foreign investors to enter India. The rupee has fallen a lot in recent years, making assets relatively cheap.
There’s no need for social media managers any more. Tweeting has become everyone’s job.
The legal system could kill driverless cars. With no drivers, it will be automakers who are liable for every single accident.
Interstellar voyager. The Voyager I spacecraft, launched by NASA way back in 1977, become the first man-made object to exit the solar system.
The world’s wasted food emits over 3.6 billion tons of carbon dioxide gases. That’s more emissions than any country other than China and the United States.
The rickety old Popemobile. Pope Francis plans to drive around the Vatican in a 1984 Renault, which has run 300,000 kilometers (186,000 miles).
Forget the fingerprint scanner. An app that learns how hard and fast you tap your phone’s screen can identify the owner with 99% accuracy.
Forget flowers—heroism is better. A service in Kazakhstan allows men to stage mock attacks on their loved ones, and then ride to their rescue.