What to watch for today
John Kerry gets comfortable in India. The US secretary of state is on a three-day trip that he hopes will go better than his visit to the Middle East. The fifth annual India-US Strategic Dialogue will be a chance to build relations with prime minister Narendra Modi’s new government.
The Czech National Bank holds at “technical zero.” The central bank, struggling to push inflation back up towards its 2% target, will likely hold its benchmark interest rate at 0.05% and continue weakening the koruna against the euro, which buys most Czech exports; the bank bought 7.4 billion euros ($10.4 billion) on open markets in November.
Tesla’s halfway report. The electric car maker’s second-quarter earnings will give a glimpse into the company’s progress towards its 2014 target of 35,000 global deliveries, but investors will be hoping for news on the company’s anticipated $5 billion “gigafactory” plant for making batteries, which could be as big a business for it as cars.
More of a squeeze on Samsung. The Korean smartphone maker is likely to report its third successive quarter of declining profit as its market share is eroded at the high end by Apple and at the low end by cheaper imitators in China.
Can Brazil pay off its debt? Latin America’s largest economy releases figures for the primary budget balance of the entire country (paywall), including state and municipal governments, which will give investors a peek into whether the country is able to service its debt, which Standard & Poor’s downgraded earlier this year.
Correction: In yesterday’s brief we referred to Argentina as Latin America’s largest economy; it’s the third or fourth largest, depending on whether you ask the Argentinians or the Colombians.
While you were sleeping
Did Argentina default? Standard & Poor’s cut the country’s credit rating to “selective default” as today’s deadline passed for a $539 million payment on bonds due in 2033. The court-appointed mediator said Argentina’s government has reached no deal with its holdout creditors, but there are reports of a side deal between the holdouts and banks (link in Spanish) that could buy their debt and effectively rescue the country.
Is Snapchat working with Alibaba? The photo messaging app may be in financing talks with investors including Chinese commerce giant Alibaba that would value it at $10 billion. Or it may not be. If it is, Snapchat looks smart for spurning a $3 billion acquisition offer from Facebook a few months ago.
The US economy bounced back, but the Fed held steady. US GDP grew 4% year-on-year in the second quarter, thanks to increases in consumer spending and exports, after a 2.1% shrinkage last quarter attributed to the harsh winter. The Federal Reserve, however, cut its bond-buying stimulus by $10 billion a month as previously planned and left short-term interest rates unchanged.
Republicans voted to sue Obama. The US House of Representatives passed a resolution authorizing a lawsuit against the president for exceeding his authority over changes to the Affordable Care Act. Democrats have warned this will be a prequel to impeachment, but Republicans say that’s scaremongering.
Israel shelled a school and a busy market. At least 37 Gazans were killed as a result of Israeli strikes on a UN school being used as a civilian shelter and on a crowded shopping area, where residents thought a “humanitarian window” was in place.
Quartz obsession interlude
Roya Wolverson on why business travelers should think twice about booking with Airbnb. “Airbnb bookings aren’t always the bargain they appear to be. That’s partly because business travelers are more likely to need an entire apartment for work privacy, not just someone’s spare room. A US city-by-city study by the web data company Priceonomics found that while renting a private room on Airbnb is about half as expensive on average than staying in a hotel, renting an entire apartment is less of a bargain, with a cost savings of just over 20%.” Read more here.
Matters of debate
Too many people are visiting Europe’s museums. Overwhelming crowds are forcing institutions to balance accessibility and art preservation (paywall).
Twitter is still no match for Facebook. Twitter’s strong earnings report is still just a fraction of Facebook’s sales.
The end of the big-box store era will soon be upon us. Customers are edging away from Target and Walmart and are turning to the web or smaller stores.
Israel’s strategic position can only get worse. But it is unlikely to negotiate from a position of strength in Gaza.
Nintendo’s empire is doomed. The threat of smartphone and tablet apps and new hardware threaten the console business.
Print media will be dead in 20 years.
There are active geysers on one of Saturns’ moons. The jets spotted on Enceladus suggest there are deep oceans of water that could potentially harbor life.
Washington is in the midst of a politically-triggered baby boom. The 16-day government shutdown last fall evidently gave federal employees a lot of spare time.
A new blood test could predict your risk of suicide. It picks up a genetic mutation in how the brain deal with stress.
Never suffer another soggy grilled cheese sandwich. A startup has devised a high-tech Smart Box for delivering them in.
Preventing lion attacks? There’s an app for that. Smartphones and solar lighting are keeping predators at bay in Kenya.
Dogs will flaunt their stuff on TV. Hollywood has given the furred canines their own awards show.