What to watch for today
Facebook reports. The social network is expect to post a 46.1% jump in revenue over the same quarter last year, thanks to its booming mobile ads business. Earlier this week, its service went down for roughly one hour, but it turned out to be an internal error, not a hacking attack.
The Fed talks interest rates. The US central bank will likely conclude its monthly policy meeting by saying it’s not raising rates just yet and will continue advising “patience” to see how the global economy affects the US. Morgan Stanley now thinks a rate hike is due in March 2016.
Shareholders vote on a tobacco merger. Reynolds American and Lorillard, America’s second- and third-biggest cigarette companies, want to merge (paywall) into a $25 billion behemoth, creating an effective duopoly with Altria Group, the company that makes Marlboro. Here’s a Wharton analysis on what that would mean.
Some early information on AirAsia flight QZ8501. A preliminary report is due on the disaster that claimed 162 lives when an Airbus A320 plunged into the Java Sea last month, but it won’t include black-box data. The current theory is that the pilot climbed far too fast (paywall), causing the plane to stall.
Numbers, numbers, numbers. Other companies reporting today: Boeing, Qualcomm, and Nintendo. And as for economic data: Russian retail sales for December, and both Thailand’s and Malaysia’s respective central banks will likely leave interest rates alone.
While you were sleeping
Apple blew past Wall Street’s expectations. Revenue came in at $74.6 billion for the last quarter, versus the expected $67.5 billion, and profit at a record $18 billion. That was largely because Apple shipped 74.4 million iPhones; analysts had predicted 65-68 million.
Yahoo announced a spin-off. Announcing its earnings—which met expectations—the internet firm also said it would spin off its $40 billion stake in Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba into a separate investment vehicle called, of all things, SpinCo. This lets its transfer the stake to its shareholders without a tax bill.
Alexis Tsipras fired his first shots. Greece’s newly elected prime minister appointed an anti-austerity cabinet and announced he was halting the sale of a stake in the country’s biggest port. That privatization is one of the conditions of Greece’s bailout agreement, which Tsipras has vowed to renegotiate.
Obama offered a compromise on offshore oil drilling. The US president is proposing to open an area that spans America’s east coast for oil and gas exploration after he leaves office; in exchange, a swath of offshore Alaska would be off-limits. That’ll be contentious, with oil prices still sliding and the impact of the Deepwater Horizon disaster still being tallied.
Twitter and Snapchat announced big new features. You’ll be able to post videos up to 30 seconds long—which happens to be the same length as most TV commercials—directly from a smartphone. (Twitter claims this doesn’t threaten Vine, the six-second video service it acquired two years ago.) And Snapchat, the ephemeral messaging app, will now deliver content from trusted “editors and artists.”
Lada lightened its balance sheet with layoffs. Avtovaz—the Russian car company that makes the Lada—is reportedly going to cut (paywall) another 1,100 positions, on top of the 12,000 it cut last year. Renault and Nissan took control of Avtovaz last summer after buying a 50.1% stake for $740 million (paywall).
Quartz obsession interlude
Gwynn Guilford helps you identify the office psychopath. “Savoring the suffering of others isn’t merely the stuff of Fifty Shades of Grey or Hannibal Lecter. Recent psychology research reveals that most people are more likely to encounter sadism in their offices, at the hands of a colleague, than from someone with a flogger or a glass of chianti.” Read more here.
Matters of debate
The loss of Kobane is the beginning of the end for ISIL. It’s bad PR for the Islamic State, which depends on propaganda to grow and thrive.
The West needs to step up its support for Ukraine. Helping the country rebuild itself might even inspire the Russian people to demand the same kinds of changes (paywall).
The sharing economy offloads risk from companies. People who work for services like Airbnb and Uber need the government to compensate with a bigger social safety net.
Give working from home a chance. It can increase productivity and decrease turnover—though it can also be lonelier.
Turkmenistan wants your car to be white. It’s no longer allowing imports of black cars; white is considered an auspicious color.
Investors love investing in the marijuana industry. Except for in businesses that actually grow the weed.
Israeli holocaust survivors are trapped in poverty. Around a quarter of the country’s nearly 200,000 survivors are barely getting by.
Don’t rely too much on sleeping pills. A class of drugs found in many over-the-counter sleep drugs has been linked with an increased risk of dementia.
A little extra padding can be good for your kids. Fat deposits on women’s thighs and buttocks play a role in building their babies a healthy central nervous system.
What to get your ex for Valentine’s Day. San Francisco Zoo is offering adoption certificates for nasty creatures like cockroaches and scorpions as gifts for the person you love to hate.
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