What to watch for today
Obama announces a $1 billion Europe defense fund. The US president plans to unveil a “European Reassurance Fund” aimed at supporting countries destabilized by Russia’s recent actions in Ukraine. Details are still being worked out, with more to come during Obama’s four-day European tour.
Syria holds an “election.” President Bashar al-Assad is expected to win his third seven-year term in a rigged contest. Rebel-controlled areas in the north and east of the divided country will not be participating.
The 25th anniversary of Tiananmen Square. Tonight marks a landmark anniversary of the 1989 massacre, when martial law was imposed and Chinese troops and tanks killed hundreds of civilians. Despite China’s largely successful attempts to enforce Tiananmen amnesia, vigils will take place in Taipei and Hong Kong.
A slight rise in demand for made-in-America goods. The US is expected to report a 0.5% rise in new factory orders for April, a small pullback from the 0.9% rise in March.
While you were sleeping
Europe’s economy remains largely miserable. Euro zone inflation was a below-expectations 0.5% in May, falling from 0.7% in April. One tiny bright spot: unemployment fell to 11.7% in April, from 11.8% in March.
Samsung’s holding company is planning an IPO. Samsung Everland—the de facto holding company for Samsung Electronics and other related businesses—will offer shares in the first quarter of 2015, part of a handover from chairman Lee Kun-hee to his children. Lee was hospitalized last month after suffering a heart attack.
Another 74 deaths may be linked to GM’s faulty switches. At least 74 people have died in accidents involving GM cars that have distinct similarities to other accidents which have killed 13 people, according to Reuters.
China’s economy got a mixed verdict. Activity in the service sector expanded at its fastest pace in six months with a purchasing managers’ index for May of 55.5, up from 54.8 in April. But the HSBC/Markit PMI survey, which looks at smaller manufacturing businesses, was revised down to 49.4 in May from a slightly higher preliminary reading.
UK house prices rose 11.1%. House prices rose even faster in the year-to-May than they did in April, adding to growing evidence of a housing bubble. Meanwhile, the Markit/CIPS UK purchasing managers’ index for the construction sector cooled to 60 in May, from 60.8 in April—the fourth consecutive month in which expansion slowed.
Australian retail sales missed expectations. Retail sales rose by a lower-than-expected 0.2% in April. Prices at cafes and restaurants, as well as household goods spending, were up more than basic food retail businesses.
Apple will accept virtual currencies in apps. Don’t get too excited just yet, bitcoin fans—changes to App Store guidelines now allow the use of the use of “approved” virtual currencies only.
Quartz obsession interlude
Steve LeVine and David Yanofsky on how the world is cutting carbon emissions—except India. “China, with its voracious appetite for coal, is now the largest producer of emissions, but the next time the subject is discussed, during the Group of 7 meeting on June 4 and 5 in Brussels, the spotlight may be more on India, [whose] emissions continue to soar from 2020 on, according to the EIA projection, while other countries reduce their carbon output.” Read more here.
Matters of debate
Facebook could swing an election. Its ability to get out the vote is proven—but what if it only spurred certain voters?
China’s post-Tiananmen strength is its biggest weakness. A massive credit expansion made people rich, but is now the economy’s Achilles’ heel.
Obama is actually the environmental president. He has done more for climate change and clean energy than he gets credit for.
Batteries are ripe for disruption. The energy storage industry might be too big for Silicon Valley.
50 Cent is a life coach. The rapper’s relationship advice includes making vision boards.
Hurricanes with female names are more deadly. People may feel less threatened by feminine storms and take fewer precautions.
Leonardo da Vinci was a cover letter genius. “I will make cannon, mortar and light ordnance of very beautiful and functional design.” (He also paints.)
The world’s oldest pants are 3,000 years old. And they look pretty hip.
Bat poop sparkles. The nocturnal mammals are fond of eating insects’ wings and legs, which are surprisingly shiny.