What to watch for today
India’s spectrum auction. The country holds its largest ever auction of wireless bandwidth, which is expected to put 8.2 trillion rupees ($13 billion) in the government’s coffers. Most of it is spectrum already held by mobile carriers that is up for renewal, and they depend on it for a large proportion of their revenues.
The US Senate tries again to push Keystone XL… The controversial pipeline legislation, which Congress approved but the president rejected, needs 60 supporters in the Senate to begin the process of overriding the presidential veto. If it gets them, there could be a full Senate vote on Thursday.
… and Obamacare makes another appearance before the Supreme Court. Republicans looking to undo the president’s healthcare reforms will try to argue that one short phrase in the 900-page law bans the federal government from subsidizing health insurance for the poor, even though that was the whole point. A decision isn’t expected until June.
Abercrombie & Fitch loses its cool. The preppy fashion brand is likely to report disappointing fourth-quarter results, on the back of a strong dollar and discounted holiday-period sales. Investors will want to know how it intends to fight off increasing pressure from fast-fashion competitors .
While you were sleeping
Another surprise rate cut in India. Central bank governor Raghuram Rajan cut the country’s benchmark interest rate by 25 basis points to 7.5% after an unscheduled meeting, for the second time this year. That suggests an endorsement (paywall) of prime minister Narendra Modi’s recently unveiled budget, which calls for corporate tax breaks and infrastructure investment.
Apple topped Samsung in global smartphone sales. Research group Gartner said the launch of the super-sized iPhone 6 and 6 Plus gave Apple a 20.4% market share in the fourth quarter, ahead of Samsung’s 19.9%. The South Korean electronics giant, which had held the smartphone crown since 2011, recently announced two new flagship phones that could help it retake the lead.
Edward Snowden is trying to come home. The NSA leaker is working with US and German lawyers to find a way to return to the United States, according to his Russian lawyer. Snowden, who has said in the past he is willing to leave Russia if can be assured a fair trial, faces three felony charges for releasing classified information about US surveillance programs.
Australia’s GDP slowed. The economy matched expectations by growing by 2.5% in 2014, down from 2.7% the previous year. Household spending rose modestly, as consumers were buoyed by higher home prices and cheaper oil. The central bank held off on further interest rates reductions yesterday, but there may still be more cuts to come.
China’s services sector ticked up while Japan’s crashed. The HSBC/Markit purchasing managers’ index for China’s service sector was 52 in February, from 51.8 in January, showing an acceleration in the expansion of sector activity. Low demand and subsequent job cuts caused Japan’s service PMI, measured by Markit/JMMA, to drop sharply to 48.5 in February from 51.3 in January.
Target announced a cost cutting scheme. The US retailer will save $2 billion within two years by eliminating “several thousand” jobs, mainly from its US and India headquarters that together employ 26,000 people. The company will also invest $1 billion in technology and supply chain efficiencies.
Binyamin Netanyahu’s speech on Iran got a mixed reception. Israel’s prime minister spoke to Congress, urging the US to force Iran to dismantle its nuclear program completely rather than freezing it. Republicans applauded raucously, Democrats were furious, and Israelis were divided.
Quartz obsession interlude
Bobby Ghosh on Iran’s real firepower. “Netanyahu’s Ahab-like fixation with his white whale—Iran’s nuclear program—draws attention away from the many other ways that the regime in Tehran represents a clear and present danger to the world. He is right that sanctions relief will empower that regime, but it’s hardly a given that the billions of dollars unlocked ($1.6 billion a month in oil income, by some estimates) will be poured into a clandestine program to build The Bomb.” Read more here.
Matters of debate
Netanyanhu was all mouth and no trousers. The Israeli prime minister sounded tough but proposed nothing constructive.
Japanese innovators need to be outward facing. The country is failing to export its best products.
High schools should teach students about rape prevention. Waiting until university is too late.
McDonald’s unhealthy food is the tip of the iceberg lettuce. Consumers are also noticing its abhorrent labor practices.
Sony’s $840 smart glasses are unbelievably dorky. The unwieldy specs suggest a $30 billion company in crisis.
Big Pizza is a major player in DC lobbying. Pizza Hut alone gave almost $685,000 to Republicans in the last two election cycles.
Finnish traffic violations are tied to drivers’ salaries. One man got a €54,000 ($60,400) ticket for going 14 mph (23 kph) over the speed limit.
Scientists are creating tuberculosis-resistant cows. Chinese researchers found the useful gene in mice.
Mount Everest is really, really dirty. Climbers aren’t disposing of their poop properly.
Coffee is good for your heart. Korean scientists say three to five cups a day may give you cleaner arteries.