What to watch for today
Manufacturing across the world. The HSBC/Markit “flash” purchasing managers’ index surveys offer updates on economic activity in China, the US and the euro zone. Evidence for or against Europe’s nascent recovery and the steadiness of China’s growth will be of particular interest.
Spain comes out of purdah. The country exits its European bailout after 18 months, freeing it up to borrow money on the bond markets again. Though the economy remains shaky, with unemployment at 26%, Spain has, like Ireland (which also exited recently), spurned a precautionary credit line.
South Korea’s growth. The country publishes fourth-quarter GDP data. Korean CEOs were among the most upbeat in the world about this year’s growth in a recent PwC survey.
Reading the tea leaves on Starbucks. Analysts will pore closely over the coffee giant’s earnings for the last quarter, expecting weak growth in the Americas to counter-balance expansion elsewhere. Its increasingly complex mix of products is a worry for some too.
More earnings on the menu. McDonald’s and Microsoft are among the large companies coughing up quarterly results.
While you were sleeping
Syria talks started off badly. The speechifying to launch negotiations between the Syrian regime and opposition began with bitter recriminations. The talks proper don’t begin until Friday, however, so this may have just been the equivalent of sumo wrestlers stamping before a bout.
The Kiev clashes turned deadly. Two people were reported dead as police moved on the protesters who had taken control of the center of the Ukrainian capital.
Carl Icahn’s been a busy bee. The well-known activist investor bought half a billion dollars of Apple shares, which he called a “no-brainer.” Meanwhile eBay revealed that he has acquired a 0.82% stake in it, nominated two employees to the board, and is urging it to spin off PayPal.
Coach slipped. The luxury goods retailer’s soft results in North America sent shares lower.
Netflix spiked. Thumbing its nose yet again at Wall Street doubters, the video streaming firm posted 2.33 million new users in the US and another 1.7 million elsewhere. It also said it would “vigorously protest” any changes in regulation following a recent court ruling against “net neutrality.”
Quartz obsession interlude
Leo Mirani and David Yanofsky on the looming rush for new internet domain names. ”The coming deluge of new domains… will affect everybody who uses the web. What’s less certain is whether it is strictly necessary. Proponents argue that it will benefit people and businesses (small ones especially) by giving them more addresses to choose from. Critics call it a massive land grab by both entrepreneurs and some of the world’s most powerful internet companies..” Read more here.
Matters of debate
Predicting the best asset class of the year is a mug’s game. And people keep playing it, though it probably loses them vast amounts of money.
Something weird is going on with Obamacare. The millions of Americans without health insurance aren’t signing up for it nearly as eagerly as they should be.
India has had a lost decade. And it’s entirely prime minister Manmohan Singh’s fault.
We’d all be better off living in a computer simulation. In fact, we have no way of knowing we aren’t already in one.
Aristotle would have been a web genius. The Greek philosopher knew how to make things go viral: ethos, pathos, and logos.
Sheryl Sandberg is now a billionaire. The Facebook COO became one of the world’s youngest with a ten-figure wealth, after shares rose yesterday.
The Vikings were just like us. The social networks in Norse sagas are quite similar to those of today.
Another step towards the bionic body. A Harvard spin-off company is testing man-made tracheas.