What to watch for today
Coal India shares go on sale. The Indian government will begin selling up to 10% (paywall) of its state-owned mining company, Coal India, in an effort to shore up cash to address its gaping deficit. The company, which accounts for roughly 80% of the country’s coal production, hasn’t kept up with rising domestic demand.
Will ISIL act on hostage threats? The terrorist group said it would kill a Jordanian hostage if an Iraqi woman held in Jordan was not released by sunset Thursday. Jordanian authorities said the prisoner is still in detention. Islamic State is also still holding Japanese journalist Kenji Goto, after it postponed its threat to execute him earlier this week.
Numbers, numbers, numbers. Companies reporting earnings today: MasterCard, Chevron, Honda, BT, and Mattel. The day’s economic data also includes: Q4 GDP numbers for Spain, and possibly Ukraine.
While you were sleeping
Google missed the mark. The search giant’s consolidated fourth-quarter revenue grew 15% to $18.1 billion, from $15.7 billion a year earlier, but was short of the $18.5 billion the market was hoping for. Google faces a challenge as internet use goes mobile, where it earns less for selling ads, which is still the company’s core revenue earner.
Amazon surprised everybody with a profit. The e-commerce behemoth reported net income of $214 million in the fourth quarter last year, down from $239 million a year ago. That was enough to send shares soaring by over 12% in extended trading, despite the fact that Amazon expects the most it will make this quarter is an operating profit of just $50 million.
Singtel announced a Netflix competitor. The Singaporean telecom has partnered with Warner Bros and Sony Pictures to bring Hollywood movies, American TV, and local programming to India, Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines, and Singapore. Named “Hooq,” the service will charge users through Singtel’s billing network.
Japanese inflation narrowly missed expectations. Low oil prices meant consumer prices—excluding fresh food and the effects of the sales tax rise—rose by just 0.5% in December from a year earlier. That’s short of expectations of a 0.6% rise, and some analysts believe oil prices could drag inflation to zero within six months (paywall).
Spotify could be valued at $8 billion. The music streaming service has hired Goldman Sachs to raise around $500 million privately, making it less likely the Swedish company will IPO this year, the Financial Times reported (paywall). Spotify’s paid subscriber base grew 20% to 15 million in the last two months of 2014.
Quartz obsession interlude
Alice Truong on the Bay Area’s organic marijuana movement. “San Francisco is a town full of snobs. People who live here expect restaurants to accommodate their local, organic, sustainable, vegan, gluten-free, no-MSG, Paleo diets. And when they go shopping for weed at posh dispensaries, they also expect variety: pre-rolled joints, flowers, concentrates, brownies, cookies, caramel corn, cheese crackers, pretzels, you name it.” Read more here.
Matters of debate
Snapchat is out of the friend zone. Its new media-sharing feature, called Discover, makes it look a lot like the future of mobile content consumption.
The Silk Road bust has been great for internet drug dealers. Publicly shutting it down let millions know drugs are easy to buy online.
It is time to take Russia, China and the Arab world’s media seriously. They’re not pushing propaganda, they’re a valid counterweight to the dominance of Western media.
Greece’s new far-left government will change Europe. Other countries will be inspired not to play by the EU’s rules.
Public transportation should be free. Recent experiments with the concept in Estonia and Singapore show it can work.
A coder unveiled the world’s smallest computer chess game. The program takes up just 487 bytes.
Taylor Swift is trademarking lyrics. You can no longer make money from the phrase “party like it’s 1989” in the US.
A TV crew got locked in Auschwitz. The leader of Rome’s Jewish community was making a show when his crew discovered they couldn’t get out.
Scientists used stem cells to grow hair. It’s the first step in a stem-based cure for baldness.