What to watch for today
Australia delivers its toughest budget in 20 years. Prime minister Tony Abbott is set to cut spending drastically, slash thousands of jobs, and clamp down on welfare benefits (paywall). Despite an election pledge not to raise taxes, he is also likely impose an extra levy on high-income earners.
Carl Icahn makes waves. The activist investor who owns 2.2% of eBay may speak up at its shareholder meeting and has nominated several directors. Despite withdrawing his call for a PayPal spin-off, he still believes it should operate as a separate unit.
China’s army chief visits the US. People’s Liberation Army general Fang Fenghui begins a four-day trip amid high tensions between China and its maritime neighbors in Vietnam and the Philippines.
White Marilyn goes on sale. Christie’s expects the iconic Andy Warhol portrait of Marilyn Monroe to fetch up to $18 million at auction in New York.
While you were sleeping
Europeans won the right to be forgotten online. The European Union Court of Justice ruled that people can ask Google to delete sensitive information from search results. Google argued that such a ruling amounts to censorship.
Facebook shopped for a China sales office. The company is looking for space in Beijing to service customers in mainland China, despite the social network being blocked there, Bloomberg reports. A local sales office could help Facebook target Chinese app developers and other companies trying to reach a global audience.
Modi is on track to win India. Narendra Modi’s BJP party and its allies will win between 249 and 340 seats, according to six exit polls; 272 seats are needed for a majority. The news could push Indian stock markets even higher.
China’s economy missed the mark again. Industrial production grew by only 8.7% in April (paywall), missing expectations of 8.8-8.9% growth. Retail sales rose 11.9%, below analyst predictions of a 12.2% rise.
Airbus went aloft. The European aerospace firm posted better-than-expected first-quarter earnings, with costs for its new A350 jet lower than some analysts had feared. Its shares climbed more than 5%.
Ehud Olmert was sentenced to prison for bribery. The former Israeli prime minister received a six-year sentence for taking bribes while he was mayor of Jerusalem, and was fined 1 million shekels ($289,000).
AT&T edged closer to buying DirecTV. The two companies are in talks over an offer in the low-$90s per share, compared with DirecTV’s Monday closing price of $87.16, according to Reuters. The second-largest US wireless carrier and the satellite TV firm could agree on a $50 billion tie-up within weeks.
Quartz obsession interlude
Jason Karaian on why Russia’s markets aren’t a good guide to what investors think. ”Russian markets are right where they were at the beginning of April, even though tensions have steadily grown since. Western officials, including the EU in its announcement of additional sanctions today, cite Ukraine’s presidential election on May 25 as a key milestone that will determine its response to Russia. Russian president Vladimir Putin called the election a ‘step in the right direction’ last week, boosting Russian assets at the time. But with few signs that the sides are pulling back from the brink—quite the opposite—ahead of the crucial national vote, why do markets seem so sanguine?” Read more here.
Matters of debate
India expects an economic superman. But its robust democracy decentralises power, which may hamper Narendra Modi’s attempts at sweeping reforms.
Violent video games don’t make people violent. But they may raise aggression in lab tests.
Alibaba’s war with Tencent will define both companies. The winner will become China’s dominant internet player (paywall); the loser, an also-ran.
Millennials are killing the US housing recovery. High debt, low credit, and societal trends are keeping young people from buying.
Climate change contributes to terrorism. Warmer temperatures are boosting urban poverty and increasing competition for resources.
Kenny G signals quitting time in China. The saxophonist’s tune “Going Home” is played in almost every public space (paywall) when closing time comes.
Legal weed leads to cheaper heroin. Mexican pot farmers stung by cheap US competition are now producing opium instead.
Get some bourbon in your bacon. A distillery in Iowa is breeding whiskey-flavored pigs.
Your LinkedIn profile can tip off the cops. Pro-tip: Don’t connect with someone and then feed them insider-trading information.
Car headlights are good for cannabis. Gangs are nicking LED bulbs from luxury vehicles to use as grow lamps.
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