What to watch for today
Britain’s election is underway. Against the background of a slowing economy, the Conservative Party is likely to edge out Labour in one of the closest elections in decades. But with no party expected to win an outright majority, it all depends who can cobble together a workable coalition. The polls close at 10pm local time, with the first results expected about an hour later.
Alibaba earnings could be ugly. The Chinese e-commerce company reports quarterly results amid a slowdown in growth which has driven shares below their September IPO levels and cost investors $70 billion. CEO Jack Ma has instituted a hiring freeze and admitted that the company grew ”too quickly.“
The US Senate votes on Iran. Republicans expect that a bill that lets Congress review any nuclear deal will to pass resoundingly, despite signs last week that it might get torpedoed (inadvertently, by even more zealous Republicans).
While you were sleeping
Nintendo is back in black. The Japanese game company posted a full-year operating profit of 24.8 billion yen ($210 million)—its first in four years—from an operating loss of 46.4 billion yen a year earlier (pdf), helped by the weak yen. The company’s decision to license games for smartphones allowed it to forecast a 50 billion yen operating profit for the year ahead, despite expectations of continued weak console sales.
Siemens fell way short. Europe’s largest engineering company’s fiscal second-quarter profit fell 5% from a year earlier to €1.7 billion ($1.9 billion), slightly lower than expected. The company said it would cut 4,500 jobs, or 1% of its workforce, as it struggles with the effects of a sluggish energy industry.
Commerzbank and ING profits surged. First-quarter net profit at Germany’s second-largest lender rose to €366 million ($416 million), compared with €200 million a year earlier, on increased debt and currency trading. ING’s first-quarter underlying net profit rose 43% to €1.2 billion, above expectations, on an increase in lending from its retail banking unit.
German factory activity missed expectations. Orders rose 0.9% in March, lower than an expected 1.5% increase but the first month-on-month rise this year. Coupled with a 10-month high in business confidence, powered by a weak euro and the European Central Bank stimulus, the result allowed Germany’s central bank to predict “robust” growth this year.
Japan’s service sector rebounded. The Markit purchasing managers’ index returned to growth in April, rising to 51.3 from 48.4 in March. That puts the service sector back in expansionary mode, a welcome relief for a government trying to boost inflation and consumer spending.
Oklahoma struggled with tornados, floods, and bears. A series of twisters outside Oklahoma City injured a dozen people and caused extensive flooding. An undetermined number of bears also escaped from a wildlife park when their enclosures were damaged.
Quartz obsession interlude
Shelly Banjo on a company that believes millennials will break America’s addiction to credit cards. “Affirm is a new type of online lender that lets shoppers buy things like televisions and mattresses from online retailers at the point of sale and pay for them over time through a set payment plan. Unlike with layaway programs, shoppers receive their goods right away.” Read more here.
Matters of debate
The UK must learn to live with compromise. If coalitions are the new normal, voters should stop punishing parties that join them.
Carly Fiorina was a trainwreck as HP’s CEO. The presidential candidate was fired because she did a bad job.
3-D printed gun blueprints are protected free speech. An advocacy group is suing the US government to prove it.
Don’t believe the hype about NASA’s warp drive. A plan for interstellar travel is still too good to be true.
Europe should open up to migrants. Open doors tend to be revolving ones (paywall) that supply economies with fresh labor.
Bill de Blasio accidentally emailed a subway complaint to the New York Times. The New York mayor was unhappy that his train was late.
A woman used a Pizza Hut app to end a hostage situation. She told her threatening boyfriend she was only ordering pizza.
Saudi Arabia has a secret death metal band. Al Namrood members risk 100 lashes if they are found playing ”the devil’s music.”
Nearly everyone in Ireland will be overweight by 2030. A World Health Organization study has diagnosed an obesity crisis in Europe.
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