What to watch for today
What’s Coal India worth? Shares in the government mining monopoly will be priced in advance of a public offering on Friday. The government is looking to sell up to 10% of the company, which would be worth a cool $4 billion at its current valuation, despite protests by mineworkers.
And what’s Shake Shack worth? The US hamburger chain is also pricing shares for an IPO; it’s bumped up both the number of shares and the price range and is looking to raise $95 million. There are 63 Shake Shacks around the world, and the goal is to open 10 new stores a year “for the foreseeable future”.
Tighter screws on Russia. EU foreign ministers will discuss a proposal to extend sanctions by six months—or possibly nine (paywall)—in the wake of renewed attacks by pro-Russian separatists, including last weekend’s bombardment of Mariupol. The US may also up the size (paywall) of its loan guarantees to Ukraine.
A new president for Italy. The race to succeed Giorgio Napolitano is wide open, and there’s a lot of horse-trading going on among the legislators who get to vote. The president can nominate prime ministers, dissolve parliament, call for elections, and grant pardons—powers that, in Italy, tend to come in handy pretty often.
Numbers and more numbers. Companies reporting include Amazon, Ford, Google, Royal Dutch Shell, and Samsung. And as for economic data: Spanish and Japanese December retail sales, Germany’s January unemployment figures, and interest-rate decisions from Mexico, New Zealand, and South Africa.
While you were sleeping
Facebook crushed it. It beat Wall Street’s expectations in on its main quarterly numbers and did impressively well on mobile. But its shares dropped after-hours, probably because its spending also spiked (paywall). Also, most of the user growth was outside North America, where the revenue per user is lower.
Sony teamed up with Spotify. A day after announcing job cuts at its smartphone division, the Japanese company said it will shut down its music service, Sony Unlimited, which never really took, off in March. Instead, it’s partnering with Spotify to bring its streaming service to the PlayStation and Xperia phones and tablets.
Ford recalled 221,000 vehicles. Some cars have a problem that could cause a car’s door to open upon impact, and some vans have potentially faulty seat belts. Ford says the problems have not caused any injuries. In related news, Fiat Chrysler reported sub-par profits because of recall costs.
Boeing’s earnings climbed 19%. Defense spending may be down, but the aircraft maker’s commercial business delivered a record $440 billion in revenues in 2014. During its fourth quarter, Boeing delivered 195 planes, up from 172 last year.
Edward Snowden revealed Canada’s global surveillance program. The whistleblower’s documents—given to The Intercept and Canada’s CBC News—reveal a government program called “Levitation” which scanned 10-15 million file transfers a day on more than 100 file-sharing sites for signs of extremism.
Violence at the Lebanese border resumed. In the deadliest attack since the 2006 war, a Hezbollah missile killed two Israeli soldiers and injured seven others. It appears to be retaliation for an Israeli attack in Syria that killed six Hezbollah members and an Iranian general. Israel responded with air and ground attacks on Hezbollah.
Quartz obsession interlude
Lily Kuo on where you won’t be spending your next vacation. “China is promoting 2015 as ‘Silk Road tourism year,’ hoping to attract visitors to stops along the ancient trading route in the northwest of the country. But recent numbers show that steep visa fees, cumbersome rules for tourists, and bad pollution are steadily pushing China down on the list of top tourist destinations.” Read more here.
Matters of debate
We need to put a price on privacy. We value our secrets, yet we give them up to governments and companies without evaluating what we’re getting in return.
Don’t over-celebrate the liberation of Kobani. Though ISIL has been forced out of the small border town, it’s getting stronger elsewhere in Syria.
Latin America is squandering its China boom. It’s letting China plunder it for raw materials and not putting enough of the proceeds into growing domestic economies.
America is going to face a food disaster soon. And it’s the Environmental Protection Agency’s fault for allowing ever greater concentrations of toxic chemicals into crops.
Only one in four Indian homes has a fridge. When the first one arrives in a village, it’s still a really big deal.
One million Britons may have been misdiagnosed with asthma. And they could suffer side-effects from inhalers and other drugs.
Beijing is thinking about rolling out women-only subway cars. Rush-hour means tight spaces, and sexual harassment is on the rise (paywall).
Criminal masterminds are stealing DVDs. Take a film off a shelf, shove it inside an envelope, and then use the store’s post office to mail it to yourself.
For some people, a Facebook outage is a real emergency. Five residents of San Francisco called 911 to ask when service would be restored.