What to watch for today
Facebook reports its earnings. The social network is expect to post a 46.1% annual jump in fourth-quarter revenue, 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 rather than 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 trends in the global economy play out in the US. Morgan Stanley now thinks a rate hike is due in March 2016.
New 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.
The developer of the Uzi goes up for sale. Israel Military Industries is expected to earn the Israeli government more than $500 million. The government hopes the sell-offs of a dozen businesses ranging from port authorities to postal services will reduce government debt and inject some life into the country’s stock market.
Numbers, numbers, numbers. Boeing, Qualcomm, and Nintendo will all report earnings. As for economic data: Russian GDP figures are out, and both Thailand’s and Malaysia’s respective central banks will likely leave interest rates alone.
While you were sleeping
Apple sold a massive number of iPhones. The company’s super-sized iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus stole the show, as their introduction led to sales of 74.4 million phones in the holiday quarter—a 46% increase—making Apple the top-selling smartphone maker in China in the process. Revenues rose 30% to $74.6 billion, and profits climbed 38% to a record $18 billion, easily beating expectations.
Yahoo announced a spin-off of its Alibaba stake. The US internet firm will separate its $40 billion stake in Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba as a “newly formed independent registered investment company” called, for now, just “SpinCo.” The spin-off—unlike selling the shares outright—will not incur a hefty tax bill.
Australia’s inflation slowed down sharply. Consumer prices rose only 1.7% in the fourth quarter compared to a year earlier, narrowly missing expectations of a 1.8% rise, versus a 2.3% annual rise in the third quarter. The data could add pressure on the central bank to lower its benchmark interest rate to achieve its inflation target of 2% to 3%.
Singapore pulled a Switzerland on its currency. The Singaporean dollar fell to the lowest in over four years after its central bank announced in an unscheduled meeting that it would slow the currency’s rise against a basket of currencies. The bank also reduced its inflation outlook for 2015 due to falling oil prices.
Sony struggled to stay in the smartphone race. The Japanese tech giant will cut another 1,000 jobs at its smartphone division in the next fiscal year, on top of the 1,000 it’s cutting this year, after shipping nearly 20% fewer phones than projected.
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.
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
iPhone users always wanted a bigger screen. They were just too proud to admit it.
Investors love everything about marijuana with one exception: The farmers who actually grow the weed.
Adult snow days are dying. Most people now spend them working from home.
This is the beginning of the end for ISIL. The loss of Kobane is catastrophic PR for a group that relies heavily on propaganda.
The sharing economy offloads risk from corporations. The government’s safety net has to pick up the slack.
Turkmenistan requires imported cars to be white. It is considered to be an auspicious color.
Israeli holocaust survivors are trapped in poverty. Around a quarter of the nearly 200,000 survivors there barely get by.
Sleeping pills are linked with dementia. Over-the-counter sleep drugs may put people at risk.
A big butt might be good for your kids. Fat deposits in nursing mothers’ thighs and buttocks help develop infant nervous systems.
A Valentine’s Day gift for someone you hate. The San Francisco Zoo is offering adoption certificates for cockroaches and scorpions.
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