What to watch for today
Janet Yellen in the hot seat. The new Federal Reserve chair will testify before Congress for the first time since taking the helm. Despite recent economic weakness, she is expected to continue the Fed’s bond purchase tapering.
Taiwan and China’s awkward diplomacy dance. Diplomats meet for the first time since the end of their 1949 civil war to discuss cross-strait relations. Big surprise: China says Taiwan’s independence is off the table.
CVS Caremark’s profit prescription. The American drugstore chain is set to report fourth-quarter earnings per share of $1.05, compared to $0.90 last year, on revenues of $32.67 billion. CVS has consistently beaten analysts’ estimates, but no one’s quite sure what to make of its decision to stop selling tobacco products.
While you were sleeping
Richard Branson’s next IPO. The newly profitable airline Virgin Americas has picked Barclays and Deutsche Bank to run its public offering, according to the Financial Times (paywall), which could come in the second half of the year—a mere seven years after its maiden flight.
China joined Cobra Gold. The international military exercise held every year by the US and Thailand will for the first time include a token group of Chinese soldiers alongside forces from Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, South Korea and Japan.
Philippines unemployment is sky-high. A new survey found the jobless rate rose to 27.5% in the fourth quarter, from 21.7% in the previous quarter, despite the country’s robust GDP growth.
Apple was forced to keep its antitrust watchdog. A federal court rejected Apple’s bid to dismiss its court-appointed monitor, appointed after it was held liable for conspiring to hike e-book prices. But the court did narrow some of the scope of Apple’s gadfly.
Financial sticklers called out the American justice system. Better Markets, a financial accountability non-profit, filed a lawsuit to block the $13 billion JP Morgan mortgage settlement, claiming it was reached unlawfully, behind closed doors.
Facebook wants a free pass on mobile networks. The social networking firm asked for a “zero rate” deal in emerging markets, so that Facebook usage wouldn’t count against subscriber data limits. Vodafone’s CEO answered that there is “no reason why I should give my network capacity for free.”
Quartz obsession interlude
Lily Kuo on how Asia’s cash-conscious middle class will fuel airlines’ traffic growth. “As households in emerging Asian countries grow wealthier, more are traveling domestically and to neighboring countries. These newly wealthy travelers are still budget-conscious, which is one reason why regional discount carriers have taken off so quickly. As of October, budget airlines accounted for over half of capacity in Southeast Asia’s four largest travel markets, compared to the 40% of the market that budget airlines in Europe (paywall) occupy, even though they’ve been in existence for almost twice as long.” Read more here.
Matters of debate
Amazon is undermining books, not just prices, by reinforcing the idea that the book is an object of minimal value.
The part-timing of America is a myth. No matter how you slice the numbers, full-time work is becoming more common, not less.
The NFL will never be ready for a gay player. But who cares? There are gay players in America’s National Football League and players and fans have to deal with it.
The tooth fairy is less than 100 years old. With the going rate now at $3.70 per tooth, she’s earning her keep for years to come.
People in relationships expect their partners to spend $240 on Valentine’s Day. A lot of them would be satisfied with just having sex, though.
The history of Apple is woven into The Simpsons and Futurama. Here’s a full roundup of the company’s mentions in the TV shows over time.
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