What to watch for today
Lufthansa lands its full-year results. Europe’s largest airline, which scrapped its dividend (paywall) last month, will update investors on the effects of cheap oil, the weak euro, and the company’s recent sale of its IT unit to IBM.
Volkswagen’s factory expansion. The German automaker reports quarterly results as investors wait to hear about plans to expand its second largest plant (paywall), in Puebla, Mexico.
US retail sales for February. Research firm Retail Metrics expects a 1.9% gain year-over-year, after an 0.8% drop in January.
While you were sleeping
Alibaba bought a piece of Snapchat at a $15 billion valuation. The Chinese e-commerce giant will invest $200 million in the ephemeral messaging app, according to Bloomberg and the Wall Street Journal (paywall). Alibaba has made a series of investments in US messaging apps, as has its Chinese rival Tencent, which also owns a stake in Snapchat.
Deutsche Bank and Santander failed the Fed’s second round of stress tests. The banks are barred from raising dividends or buying back stock after their capital distribution plans were rejected. Bank of America got an incomplete: The Fed’s approval for its plan is contingent on the company correcting deficiencies in its modeling and internal controls. Other major banks passed the annual review, but that doesn’t mean they should be breathing easy.
South Korea joined the rate-cut trend. The central bank cut the benchmark interest rate by a quarter-point to an all-time low of 1.75%, following a surprise cut in Thailand yesterday, and after similar moves by more than 20 central banks this year. South Korean inflation is at its lowest point since 1999, and exports are falling.
Saudi Arabia signed a nuclear deal with South Korea. The countries agreed to investigate the possibility of building two Saudi nuclear reactors. The deal is seen as a Saudi move to counter Iran’s nuclear capabilities—especially if a deal with the west allows Tehran to maintain some enrichment capabilities—and could signal the start of a Middle East nuclear arms race.
Google launched its new high-end laptop. The Chromebook Pixel starts at $999 and boasts 12 hours of battery life, compared to five hours for the previous iteration, as well as a USB Type-C port. That’s the same port as on Apple’s newest MacBook, suggesting laptop makers are serious about the new standard for charging and peripherals.
Ukraine’s economic forecast got a severe downgrade. The International Monetary Fund expects the economy to contract by 5.5% this year, a sharp revision from its previous expectation it would grow by 1%. The IMF, which is organizing a $17.5 billion bailout for Ukraine, predicted that inflation will “spike temporarily.”
Quartz obsession interlude
Max Nisen on pharma’s biggest nightmare. “For years, drug makers have feared an onslaught of competition from ‘biosimilars,’ the generic version of drugs that are made by living organisms. It finally arrived last week when the FDA approved Novartis’s Zarxio, a near copy of Amgen’s blood cancer drug Neupogen and the first biosimilar in the US.” Read more here.
Matters of debate
China’s feud with the Dalai Lama has become an absurdist comedy. A dispute about reincarnation is best seen “through the prism of Monty Python.”
Netflix broke the spoiler alert. The solution is to have marathons, not binges, of new TV episodes.
We’re suffering from opinion fatigue. Everyone is expected to have a take on everything—and our brains simply can’t cope.
Governments need to invest in the internet. Private companies on their own won’t get the next several billion people online (paywall).
Tikrit is still ripe for atrocities. Even if ISIL gets run out of town, there’s ample potential for sectarian violence in the Iraqi town.
South African gamekeepers are breeding mutants for sport. Hunters pay $30,000 to shoot blue-eyed white lions, for example.
Old people drink more frequently than young people. But the youths—especially men—consume a whole lot more alcohol overall.
Apple stores are good for shopping malls. Their presence can boost spending in neighboring stores by a third.
Chameleons use crystals to change colors. Altering the space between “floating nanocrystals” in their skin cells reflects different wavelengths of light.
Death by firing squad might return to the US. Utah lawmakers passed a bill approving the method if lethal injection supplies run short.