What to watch for today
Australia’s job situation gets worse. Unemployment rose to 10-year highs in January and February, and the March rate is set to rise yet further, to 6.1%, its highest since July 2003. The number of people with jobs is expected to drop by 5,000 after a surprise increase in February.
China’s exports look better. February’s figures did not paint a pretty picture for Chinese exports, but that could have been a side-effect of the lunar new year; this month should be a little rosier. But if it isn’t, doubts will spread over the government’s ability (paywall) to meet its target of 7.5% economic growth this year.
Greece’s bonds hit the market. Greece hopes to raise €2.5 billion ($3.45 billion) in its first sovereign debt auction in four years, after having rolled in €11 billion of orders on Wednesday. If it sells all the bonds at a yield below 5.3%, it will consider the auction a “great success,” a Greek official said.
Rite Aid takes a knock from Obamacare. Analysts expect the US drugstore chain to post its second consecutive profitable year after a string of losses, and to show higher revenues from fewer stores. Profit margins are set to drop, though, as pharmacies offer deals to lure newly insured Americans, but should level out by this time next year.
While you were sleeping
Chocolate teamed up with pet food. Candy company Mars agreed to buy three pet food brands (Natura, Iams and Eukanuba) in the US and Latin America from Procter & Gamble for $2.9 billion. The all-cash deal transfers about 80% of P&G Pet Care’s global sales into Mars’ portfolio, which already includes Pedigree and Whiskas.
Europe clamped down on executive pay. EU lawmakers unveiled a proposal that would oblige public companies to ask shareholders for approval before handing their executives their pay packets. Companies will have to explain why the pay is justified, and state a salary maximum. The bill is part of a move to increase corporate accountability.
US interest rates could stay low for longer. Minutes from last month’s Federal Reserve meeting showed some members weren’t convinced by Fed chair Janet Yellen’s suggestion that interest rates could rise as soon as mid-2015. Markets took that as a sign the central bank will keep its easy money policy going for longer, and the dollar fell to its weakest in five months.
BofA coughed up for its credit-card con. US regulators fined Bank of America $772 million after finding the bank guilty of unfair billing and misleading customers over the benefits of its credit-card insurance scheme. It’s the fifth and largest such settlement that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has reached.
The Venezuelan government and opposition agreed to talks. The Vatican may mediate in negotiations aimed at ending a political stalemate and violence that has killed 39 people since mid-February.
Quartz obsession interlude
Leo Mirani on Samsung’s unconventional expansion plans. ”Samsung is going where few multinationals have gone before. In India, the South Korean giant will open between 3,000 and 4,000 shops in cities with fewer than 100,000 people, according to the Economic Times. This may not sound like a big deal to readers from countries with populations measured in millions instead of a billion, but towns of that size in India are little more than overgrown villages.” Read more here.
Matters of debate
The future of “Made in America” is Tesla, not Ford. The F-150 pickup truck has been the US’s top-selling vehicle for decades, but Tesla is charging toward that number one spot.
America’s sushi habits are funding exploitation. Most of the seafood imported to the US is caught or trafficked illegally.
State meddling is killing Petroleo Brasileiro, Brazil’s oil giant. And it’s up to Brazil’s middle class to save it.
Wall Street is up to its old tricks in a new form. Mortgage-backed securities may be out, but rental-backed securities are the new way to swindle the everyman.
Only tougher sanctions will stop Russia. The West needs to act quicker, this time.
Google Glass could be coming to emergency rooms. Beth Israel hospital in Boston plans to put the device to good use.
China has developed a huge thirst for decent wine. Chinese tipplers now drink more bottles priced above $10 (paywall) than any country except the United States.
This email will self-destruct after reading. Two students have built the Snapchat of email messaging.
Sweden is considering a six-hour workday. A pilot program will test whether shorter shifts make people more productive.
South Korea is a great place to live while you’re young. Probably wise to get out before adulthood, though.
You can pay in a New York taxi before the end of the ride. Here’s our step-by-step guide to this time-saving hack.
Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, new uses for Google Glass, and self-destructing emails to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.