What to watch for today
Frustration in Nepal. Some rural areas have yet to receive any food or medicine, even as Chinese netizens have stepped up their donation efforts. Here is a visual explanation of why the earthquake may have been much bigger than previously thought.
The final UK showdown. Prime minister David Cameron faces his main opponent, Labour Party leader Ed Miliband, in the fourth and final debate (paywall) before the May 7 election. Recent polls suggest Cameron’s Conservatives have a slight lead with 35% of the vote; Labour is just three points behind.
Elon Musk unveils two gigantic batteries. Tesla has already let the cat out of of the bag: The company will sell one battery that can power homes and another “utility-scale” battery for companies.
NASA crashes a spaceship into Mercury. The Messenger probe was supposed to circle Mercury for one year gathering data, but NASA extended its mission by three years. Now it’s running out of fuel after 11 years in service, and projections show it should smash into the planet today.
Earnings. Companies set to open the books include: Coca-Cola, Colgate-Palmolive, ConocoPhillips, Expedia, LinkedIn, and Visa.
While you were sleeping
Sony bounced back. The Japanese electronics firm’s operating income more than doubled to 68.5 billion yen ($576 million), as it sold more camera sensors and pared losses on TVs and mobile phones. Sony expects profits to more than quadruple in the year ahead, as its painful restructuring begins to bear fruit.
Royal Bank of Scotland posted a deeper-than-expected loss. The government-controlled bank reported a first-quarter net loss of £446 million ($688 million), far worse than expectations of a £176 million loss. RBS has set aside £334 million to cover a settlement with US authorities over foreign exchange rate manipulation.
Thousands protested the death of Freddie Gray. Hundreds of New Yorkers marched in solidarity with the Baltimore man who died in police custody, and sixty were arrested. Other protests took place in Boston, Indianapolis, and Washington, DC, while an under-curfew Baltimore was calm overnight.
Nokia missed expectations by a mile. The Finnish telecom equipment maker’s first-quarter core operating profit was €85 million ($95 million), 61% lower than a year earlier and far below an expected €226 million. The miss comes from increased research spending and competition from China’s Huawei; Nokia says conditions will improve after it completes its purchase of France’s Alcatel-Lucent.
Japan passed on a chance to up its stimulus. The central bank will maintain its quantitative easing rate of 80 trillion yen ($672 billion) per year, despite lowering its inflation forecast. The Bank of Japan said low oil prices mean it won’t reach its target 2% inflation rate until next summer.
The iPhone boosted Taiwan’s GDP. Exports and manufacturing related to the iPhone 6 helped Taiwan’s economy grow 3.5% in the first quarter from a year earlier, in line with expectations. In the future, however, demand for the iPhone is predicted to plateau, with analysts predicting a slowdown in growth.
A socialist US senator is running for president. Vermont independent Bernie Sanders could appeal to those on the progressive left who believe Hillary Clinton is too moderate. Sanders supports universal healthcare, and has also championed income equality and higher taxes on the rich.
Quartz obsession interlude
Shelly Banjo parses Jeff Bezos’ annual shareholder letter. “Amazon is now a mega-corp comprising an e-commerce company, a hardware and device maker, a government services provider, a cloud computing and marketing company, a transportation and logistics outfit, a lender, a payment processor, and a warehouse operator. As we learn from this year’s letter, it’s also an educator (it now offers continuing education classes in its warehouses) and is fast-becoming a media magnate.” Read more here.
Matters of debate
Baltimore’s mayor was wrong to call rioters “thugs.” It is a dismissive and dehumanizing label.
Free-trade policies hurt US workers… Bernie Sanders argues that they encourage the outsourcing of middle-class jobs.
…But are good for US businesses. Asia’s own gigantic middle class is too good an opportunity to pass up.
Indonesia needs to fix its drug policies. Aside from the recent executions, prison populations are soaring and HIV/AIDS is spreading.
Argentina is a bad role model for Greece. The middle class suffered the most (paywall) after a default.
The Apple Watch struggles with tattooed wrists. The heart rate sensor can get confused.
A Colombian reporter sent himself death threats. He didn’t want to lose his government bodyguards.
You’re more likely to have leprosy than you realize. Many asymptomatic people carry the disease.
Corpses can glow in the dark. Post-mortem luminescence is caused by a mold known as ”honey fungus.”
Lake Michigan is so clear you can see shipwrecks from the sky. It’s too cold for algae to cloud the water.
Correction: Yesterday, a link in our Matter of Debate entitled “We are all suckers for credit cards” took readers to the wrong destination; here is the article.
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