What to watch for today
US regulators vote on net neutrality. Consumer advocates want the internet reclassified as a public utility, while telecoms want to keep it lightly regulated. The odds appear to favor the former camp.
India unveils its railway budget. Falling fuel costs are expected to pay for a 25% increase in spending, resulting in an investment budget of over $9 billion to upgrade the country’s old tracks and trains.
The only oil company that’s still doing nicely. Analysts expect Argentina’s YPF to announce an almost 100% increase in fourth-quarter profit, thanks partly to the fact that the Argentine government sets oil prices.
A beer market check-up. Low oil prices and rising US employment are expected to buoy fourth-quarter results (paywall) for Budweiser owner AB InBev, the world’s biggest brewer.
US clothing retailers take a look in the mirror. Gap, J.C. Penney, and Kohl’s are expected to reveal solid sales growth for the end of 2014. Sears will likely post a decline, for the 11th quarter in a row.
While you were sleeping
Qantas cut its way out of the doldrums. The Australian airline posted an underlying profit of A$367 million ($289 million) in the fiscal first half, as it rebounded from a record A$2.8 billion net loss. Qantas reaped savings from a cost-cutting program and benefitted from cheaper fuel prices.
Morgan Stanley atoned for the financial crisis. The bank reached a settlement with the US government, agreeing to pay $2.6 billion for selling dodgy mortgage-backed securities in the lead-up to the crash. Morgan Stanley cut its 2014 earnings by $1.35 a share—the fourth time in five quarters it has retroactively reduced earnings.
France arrested three journalists for flying a drone. The Al-Jazeera reporters were arrested for allegedly flying a drone without a license, which carries up to one year in jail and a fine. Police said there was no link found between the reporters and several other sightings of illegal drones that have spooked Parisians.
Help is on the way for the Chinese economy. The government announced tax breaks for small businesses, and premier Li Keqiang said the country needs an active fiscal policy to aid growth. The central bank’s newspaper also called for more monetary easing in the form of lower bank reserve ratios to counter the risk of deflation.
AIA beat estimates with a 22% profit jump. The Asia-based insurer’s net profit rose to $3.45 billion in the full-year to November, beating expectations of $3.2 billion. AIA is the only fully-foreign life insurer in China, where new business grew by 55%.
Johnson & Johnson is pursuing a blockbuster cancer deal. The drugmaker is reportedly considering a $19 billion acquisition of Pharmacyclics (paywall), its partner in developing a blood cancer drug, according to the Financial Times.
The US charged three men with supporting ISIL. Two of the men were allegedly planning to travel to Syria to join the Islamic State group. The third is accused of helping fund one of them.
Quartz obsession interlude
Manu Balachandran on the lawyer challenging India’s anti-gay law by suing a sex-toy company. ”‘I am not against homosexuality,’ Joshi told Quartz. ‘There is a lot of confusion. Companies are selling products which are used for same sex activity, but at the same time, Indian government says such acts are illegal.'” Read more here.
Matters of debate
London has a fancy bridge fetish. Proposals for a pedestrian Thames crossing are eye-catching but ridiculous.
China is fertile breeding ground for ISIL. Beijing’s restrictive policies towards its Muslim population increase the chance of radicalization.
The junk food era is over. Consumer mistrust and the return of real cooking spell doom for Big Food.
Print catalogs are coming in from the cold. When the internet offers people absolutely everything, catalogs offer differentiation for brands.
A cotton candy Oreo is coming. The cookie’s red velvet edition seems to have sparked a trend.
The propensity to save may be genetic. A study comparing identical and fraternal twins found a 33% variation in savings rates.
Indonesian miners make $11 a day harvesting sulfur from volcanoes. It’s as dangerous as it sounds.
Certain colors are more likely to go viral. Images with lots of red, purple or pink got shared more widely on Pinterest.
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