Good morning, Quartz readers!
What to watch for today
Pfizer pips its rivals. The pharmaceutical company is expected to show modest gains in profits this quarter, despite a drop in sales, after rival drugs giant Merck narrowed its full-year forecast yesterday. Pfizer has dozens of drugs in the final stages of testing, which bodes well for the not-too-distant future.
LinkedIn keeps growing. The business networking website is expected to post a solid growth in profits this quarter, with revenue up more than 50% on last year. That’s thanks to a growing number of users who pay for its advanced features to look for jobs.
A drop in US retail sales. After a 0.2% rise in August, retail sales for September are expected to have been flat as Americans prepared for October’s government shutdown. The consumer sentiment index, released today, is also projected to drop.
First day of the Fed meeting. The US central bank opens its two-day meeting today, although it won’t put out its statement until Wednesday. After the Fed last month decided to delay the “tapering” of its economic stimulus, investors will be looking out for hints about the new timeline.
While you were sleeping
It’s Spain’s turn to be mad at the NSA. This week’s spying scandal: the US intelligence agency monitored more than 60 million phone calls in Spain in just one month. Last week’s: The phone-tapping of German chancellor Angela Merkel. The head of the Senate intelligence committee blasted US spying on foreign leaders (though not ordinary folk).
Rio Tinto sold another asset. The Anglo-Australian mining giant agreed to sell its 50.1% stake in Clermont, the thermal coal mine, to the recently-merged commodities giant Glencore-Xstrata for $1.02 billion. That brings Rio Tinto’s sell-offs so far this year to $2.92 billion, part of a cost-saving plan after half-year profits fell 71%.
A Briton hacked the US government. Lauri Love, a 28-year-old Brit, was one of four people charged in the US with attempting to steal “massive quantities” of confidential data by hacking into computers belonging to the US government and military, resulting in millions of dollars of losses.
Putin tried to make nice with gay people. The president of Russia—whose law banning “homosexual propaganda” has sparked a boycott movement against next year’s Winter Olympics in Sochi—told the head of the International Olympic Committee that gay athletes and visitors will be welcome.
Platinum miners could strike again. South Africa’s largest mining union, the AMCU, declared a strike at the world’s biggest platinum mine, belonging to Impala Platinum Holdings, and looked close to a new strike at mines belonging to Anglo-American Platinum (Amplats), just weeks after ending its last strike there over job cuts.
Apple’s record iPhones sales. The tech giant posted a $7.5 billion profit on revenues of $37.5 billion in the fourth quarter, surpassing analysts’ expectations. Apple sold 33.8 million iPhones—a record for the September quarter—although Mac sales declined to 4.6 million from 4.9 million.
Quartz obsession interlude
Gwynn Guilford on what an unpaid $115,000 tab for pig trotters tells us about Chinese local government debt: “The debts were incurred because the trotter restaurant was designated as a host for official ‘inspection tours,’ in which cadres fete higher-ups in town to check in on the town’s performance. A Party official’s career prospects depend largely on how he strengthens relations with more powerful officials. Showering them with gifts and stuffing them with local delicacies is routine… But as China’s economy has slowed, the wasteful spending that results from this system has plunged local governments deep into debt.” Read more here.
Matters of debate
The sharing economy is making the conventional economy better. Ride- and apartment-sharing, crowdfunding and the like are a social and economic system that increases overall economic efficiency.
There’s no such thing as “bad at math.” Sure, some people are better than others, but natural talent is less important than hard work and self-confidence.
China is pivoting to Central Asia. China is growing an inadvertent empire in regions in which US presidents have never set foot.
America faces an existential threat. The civil war and last month’s government shutdown were the two great exceptions to the rule that a representative government should provide stability.
The UN will protect us from asteroids. The agency plans to set up an International Asteroid Warning Group to share information about hazardous space rocks.
Young people prefer Old Spice. InfoScout, an app that lets people scan and upload receipts anonymously, is finding out some surprising things about people’s buying habits.
STD-free? There’s an app for that. Hula allows the user to find and rate clinics that test for sexually-transmitted diseases, and its creator hopes to make the app part of online dating services.
The etymology of “dude.” It dates back to “doods,” a term inspired by the song Yankee Doodle Dandy and given to foppish young men in 19th century New York City.