What to watch for today
Venezuela’s opposition returns to the streets. Opposition leader Leopoldo López, blamed by the government for violence in recent protests, says he will turn himself in—but only after his supporters march in Caracas.
Brazil appeases investors. Central bank president Alexandre Tombini delivers his year-ahead outlook, and will have to convince investors of his commitment to a 4.5% inflation target.
Iran pulls up a seat. Six world powers and Iranian negotiators reconvene in Vienna for nuclear talks, after last month’s interim agreement. Despite initial optimism, a permanent solution still may be out of reach.
Coca-Cola seeks a pop. Its rivals reported lower soft drink sales last quarter, but Coke could buck the trend when it reveals earnings—and perhaps more clues about its 10% stake in Green Mountain Coffee.
While you were sleeping
Japan tweaked Abenomics. The Bank of Japan maintained key interest rates after disappointing fourth-quarter GDP numbers, but also doubled the scope of two loan programs (paywall) that were set to expire. Despite government urging, banks have shown little desire to extend more credit.
A Franco-Chinese auto deal. Dongfeng Motor Group and the French government will each inject 800 million euros ($1.10 billion) into PSA Peugeot Citroen in exchange for 14% stakes in the struggling automaker, according to Reuters. The deal would end the Peugeot family’s control of the 214-year-old company.
A rare Indian telecom takeover. Bharti Airtel, the country’s biggest mobile operator, has reportedly agreed to buy its smaller rival Loop for $110 million, in a deal that could signal a long-awaited wave of consolidation in the world’s second-biggest telecom market.
Alcoa is saying goodbye to Australia. The aluminum producer will close its Australian smelter and mills in August, wiping out a tenth of the nation’s aluminum output, due to rising costs and competition from China.
China yanked out the liquidity rug. The central bank unexpectedly siphoned off 48 billion yuan ($7.9 billion) from money markets (paywall) by shelving bond purchase agreements—likely an attempt to rein in credit after a huge run-up in shadow bank lending.
Hank Greenberg’s new business. The former boss of AIG and a group of investment firms agreed to buy health insurance claim processing firm MultiPlan, valuing the company at $4.4 billion.
Quartz obsession interlude
Jason Karaian on Europe’s rising number of Euro-haters. “Does it matter? Insurgents from the political fringe have always been better represented in the European parliament than at the national level, thanks to low turnout and the perception that votes for the obscure, distant institution present an opportunity to protest without serious consequences. But what’s different this time around is that the rightwing insurgents seem serious about teaming up (pdf), which would give them more clout in the parliament. At the same time, the parliament has acquired more power and prominence, not least the ability for the largest party group to pick the next president of the European Commission, the EU’s influential executive arm.” Read more here.
Matters of debate
The war in Syria is a blot on human history.The great disaster of our time represents a step back for civilization, argues Stephen Hawking.
Loneliness is a deadly disease. And we aren’t treating it nearly enough.
Obama’s presidential library should be in the cloud. The first digital president deserves more than a physical museum.
Cease-fires make conflicts worse. Both sides use the breaks to regroup and plan their next stage of attack.
Mecca can save Indonesia’s economy. Hajj funds, propped up by the nation’s Muslim pilgrims, could lessen a damaging reliance on offshore financing.
Abba’s ridiculous costumes were a tax break. The Swedish pop stars could deduct the cost of their outfits, but only if they were too outrageous to wear on the street.
A British university built a fake pub. They’re trying to find out why people get drunk.
Prisons’ biggest smuggling problem. Smuggled cellphones are used to plot escapes and conduct illegal activity from behind bars.
Sea unicorns exist. Meet the one-toothed, one-horned whale known as the monodon monoceros.
Financial trading is stressful. Market volatility increases levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which kills the appetite for risk (paywall).