What to watch for today
Iran’s deadline. Time finally runs out for a deal on Iran’s nuclear program. The chances of a last-minute accord don’t look good, and if there isn’t one, expect Iran to ramp up its program and the US to ramp up sanctions.
Nigeria’s election results. A little over half of the votes have been counted in the election pitting incumbent Goodluck Jonathan against former dictator Muhammadu Buhari, with Buhari currently enjoying a slight lead. Both the US and the UK have voiced concerns about possible vote-rigging.
US home prices get a checkup. Analysts expect the S&P/Case Shiller home price index to rise 4.5% in the November-to-January period from a year earlier. Also, the US Conference Board will report on consumer confidence for March.
More pressure on Indiana. The Indianapolis Star is calling for an anti-discrimination law to protect gay, lesbian, and transgender people from the recently-enacted Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which allows business owners to deny service to customers based on their religious beliefs. Indiana “is in a state of crisis,” the paper said.
While you were sleeping
Huawei reported a massive profit. The Chinese telecom equipment maker’s net profit rose 33% in 2014 to 27.9 billion yuan ($4.5 billion), meeting analyst expectations. The company’s consumer business, mostly handsets, is growing fast as Huawei becomes a household name in emerging markets.
Net-a-Porter agreed to a $775 million merger. Italy’s Yoox, an online clothing retailer, agreed to buy the luxury online apparel store for €719 million in stock, to create the world’s largest online luxury goods retailer. Yoox Net-a-Porter Group will have a net revenue of around $1.3 billion, and plans to sell more stock to fund expansion.
Blackstone paid $1.3 billion for three hotels. The world’s largest real estate private equity company bought two JW Marriott hotels and one Ritz-Carlton, all in the US, according to Bloomberg. The deal is a bet on the value of the hotels’ meetings and conference venues, even as Airbnb’s reach grows.
Alibaba signed a distribution deal with BMG. The Chinese internet conglomerate’s digital entertainment unit will have access to 2.5 million tracks, the first time it has signed with a music publisher outside of Asia. Alibaba and the Chinese government are both cracking down on piracy as commercial streaming services gain popularity in China.
Heineken shook up its top staff. The Dutch brewery announced it would streamline its head office (paywall) after reporting its worst revenue growth in seven years. Heineken’s head of strategy and two regional chiefs will leave, while other jobs will be consolidated; the company will also reorganize its operations into just four global regions.
Taiwan can’t join the new China development bank. Taiwan’s membership will likely be rebuffed because Beijing hopes to avoid the “Two China’s” situation, a Chinese official said. China does not recognize Taiwan as an independent nation. Today is the deadline to join the bank.
Quartz obsession interlude
Steve LeVine on the battle for the future of the battery. “The high-tech patent wars have spread to a new front, engaging two of the world’s largest industrial companies in a multibillion-dollar court battle over lithium-ion batteries. At issue is a battery chemistry that, while little known to the public, many experts believe currently holds the best chance of electric cars penetrating the mass market.” Read more here.
Matters of debate
Millennials don’t know how to be adults. There’s no road map to life any more, and most millennials are delaying growing up.
Republicans oppose an Iranian deal because they hate peace-making. They have stood against potential agreements with all of America’s adversaries since World War II.
Governments should set up sharing-economy apps. Not-for-profit public services would be a good way to balance the disruptive power of services like Uber and Lyft.
Social media is sheltering men from real women. People who post pictures of breastfeeding, menstruation, or overweight women often have their accounts blocked.
It’s time for Singapore to grow up. Some of its laws are so archaic they’re holding back the country.
Volvo created a spray to make cyclists more visible. Put the invisible coating on your clothes or your bike, and it reflects white light.
China jailed a man for growing a beard. Facial hair is considered a form of trouble-making in some parts of China’s Muslim-majority Xinjiang province.
Parents can’t tell when their children are fat. Just a tiny fraction of British parents of “very overweight” children recognized their children as such.
Scientists engineered a virus to help boil water three times faster. Originally found on the tobacco plant, the virus can be made into a coating for industrial applications.
“China’s Detroit” is a municipality with a population of 30 million. Chongqing may be the biggest and least-recognized mega-city in the world.