What to watch for today
The EU airs Amazon’s dirty laundry. Antitrust regulators will release the results of an investigation, which began in October of last year, into the online retailer’s tax agreement with Luxembourg.
The Goldman Sachs report card. Investors are eager to see how the firm—the fifth-largest bank in the US by assets—performed during the fourth quarter and full year 2014, especially as legal fees have given rivals quite a haircut.
Cuban relations with the US warm up. New US rules that ease travel and trade restrictions between the two countries kick in today. Earlier this week, Cuba freed the last of 53 political prisoners.
Another try at peace in Ukraine. A meeting to revive a shaky ceasefire will be held in Minsk between representatives from Ukraine, Russia, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, and the heads of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republic, after an attack earlier this week in Ukraine left 12 dead.
The credit raters weigh in. Fitch will provide its latest assessments on the sovereign debt of Germany and Greece, Moody’s is going to rate Ireland, and Canada’s DBRS will offer its opinion on the UK.
While you were sleeping
Two died in Belgium after an anti-terrorist raid. The raid by Belgian police, which took place in Verviers, a town roughly 70 miles from Brussels, left two suspects dead and a third seriously injured. The raid was reportedly part of an effort (paywall) by the Belgian police to crack down on extremists known to have fought in Syria. Belgium has also raised its terror threat level to three out of four.
Global fallout from the Swiss franc’s sudden move. Foreign exchange brokerages reported their clients lost hundreds of millions of dollars after the franc shot up by as much as a third against the euro on Thursday, and a New Zealand trader failed. The Swiss central bank ended its three-year cap on the franc against the euro yesterday without warning.
BP’s Deepwater Horizon penalty was capped at $13.7 billion. A US district judge set the upper limit of the settlement at around $4 billion less than expected. The lower figure came after the judge deemed the spill smaller than the US government had previously claimed.
Oilfield jobs were slashed. Schlumberger, the world’s biggest oil services company, said it would fire 9,000 people, or about 7% of its workforce, thanks to falling demand for its drilling technology and equipment. The US company also took a $1.77 billion charge to fourth-quarter earnings.
Google stopped selling its glasses. The company said it would end the sale of its Google Glass devices to developers to work on “future versions of Glass,” its smart eyewear. The internet giant made the eyewear available to developers in 2013, but never launched the controversial technology to the public.
Facebook partnered with a Chinese browser in India. The social network teamed up with UC Web, a Chinese mobile browser popular in developing countries. UC Web users, which make up about one-third of India’s mobile users, will now get live Facebook notifications when they are browsing. The partnership comes as Facebook appears to be exploring ways to reach more Chinese internet users.
Peru tried to spur its slowing economy. Its central bank cut the benchmark interest rate to 3.25%, from 4%, as economic growth fell to its slowest pace in six years. The copper-rich exporter’s GDP rose just 2.5% in the first 11 months of last year, down from an average 6.4% in the decade before.
Quartz obsession interlude
Jason Karaian on the shocking move by Switzerland’s central bank. “Currencies aren’t supposed to move like this. Certainly not currencies like the Swiss franc, long considered a safe, stable store of value. But a shock move from the Swiss National Bank today—we’ll explain in a minute—pushed the franc up, way up, in early trading today. The knock-on effect is roiling a wide range of markets.” Read more here.
Matters of debate
Uber is not part of the sharing economy. It’s old-fashioned capitalism.
TV shows are making us smarter. Complicated plot lines are good for society, if not good for vegging out.
Mario Draghi has no more excuses. The European Central Bank president has been given the green light to enact quantitative easing, so he’d better do it.
Obesity and poverty are inherently linked. Access to good nutritional information is not universal, it’s a privilege.
Tunisia is still on the brink of disaster. Reforms haven’t eradicated high unemployment and corruption, the factors that led to the country’s revolution.
Emoji designed to offend. “Emo Emoji,” a set of digital stickers, contain an “I can’t breathe” cartoon with Barney, the purple dinosaur.
A homophobic preacher was sung off of a New York subway train. A passenger drowned him out with a rendition of “I’ve Got A Golden Ticket”.
Inactivity is worse for you than obesity. Being thin doesn’t make you healthier than being fat if you’re also idle.
Beijing’s subway has an electronic library. Riders can scan a QR code to read an ebook from the National Library.
Social media is a stress reducer for women. Pew says women who share more online are 21% less stressed.
Smart shoes will soon be a thing. German researchers built two wearables that generate energy from walking.
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