What to watch for today
Wal-Mart reports its results. The world’s largest retailer by sales is expected to report a drop in profit, as overseas and online sales falter. The earnings report follows a $1 billion plan to raise wages for low-paid workers, which has pushed other large employers in that direction.
A referendum on Jamie Dimon’s pay. The JPMorgan Chase CEO was paid $20 million last year, but several shareholders could challenge that sum at the bank’s annual meeting in Detroit. Half of his salary last year was paid in cash.
US housing starts may be stronger. The National Association of Home Builders is expected to reported that just over 1 million new homes were started in April, up from 926,000 in March.
Other earnings report cards: Home Depot, TJX, and Etsy.
Quartz: Next Billion London. Quartz is hosting a conference of global industry leaders to discuss the challenges and opportunities of an increasingly connected world. The online stream of the event is available here.
While you were sleeping
Vodafone finally had some good news. The world’s second-largest mobile operator reported a fiscal fourth-quarter rise in organic service revenue of 0.1%, its first increase after 10 quarters of declines. Vodafone predicted earnings of £11.5 billion-£12 billion ($18 billion-$18.8 billion) for the year, a potential increase from this year’s £11.9 billion.
The euro zone may temporarily expand QE. The European Central Bank could ramp up its fiscal stimulus in May and June to combat a usual lack of liquidity in the summer, suggested Benoit Coeure, an executive board member at the bank.
Boeing sold 60 jets in China. The US aircraft maker cemented a deal to provide a Chinese airline and two leasing companies 60 of its 737 Max jets, worth about 38 billion yuan ($6.1 billion). Airline Ruili started just a year ago and currently has five jets; it plans to expand to 56 planes in 10 years.
Thailand’s former prime minister pleaded “not guilty.” Yingluck Shinawatra is on trial over allegations of negligence related to a costly rice subsidy program. Yingluck’s government was deposed one year ago in a military coup, and she faces 10 years in jail.
New Zealand may face huge earthquakes. New geological evidence suggests that the country could be at risk of a magnitude 9 earthquake; far more damaging than the magnitude 8 thought to be the maximum. The difference may not appear to be great, but the real difference between a magnitude 8 earthquake and a 9 is enormous.
Quartz obsession interlude
Gwynn Guilford on how China’s banks are dangerously close to repeating the earlier mistakes of Japan. “China’s bank bloat comes from the same investment-driven, industry-focused growth model once championed by Japan. As the Chinese government attempts to ditch this model, it faces many of the same challenges Japan did in the late 1980s.” Read more here.
Matters of debate
Spotify has a secret “social network.” If you keep hitting the “related artists” feature you’ll discover 4 million tracks nobody has played yet, linked by Spotify’s music algorithm.
Look out for a M&A frenzy in tech. ’Big Tech’ is reaching the end of its first growth cycle, and will soon need to buy to grow.
Let’s stop talking about a reformation of Islam. It is a simplistic and ignorant argument.
Don’t be fooled by wearing a Fitbit. The fitness gadget industry thrives because we ignore the fact that diet, not fitness, drives obesity.
The global economy is crippled by fear. Governments mustn’t perpetuate growth anxiety by holding back investment.
The final scene of the Mad Men finale isn’t that mysterious. Here’s one big visual clue that not everyone noticed.
Xiaomi opens its doors in Europe and the US. The Chinese smartphone maker will sell accessories in its flagship stores, but not its phones.
Misogyny lost at the box office this weekend. Ladies kicked butt in Pitch Perfect 2 and Mad Max: Fury Road.
President Obama finally got his own Twitter account… His first tweet: “Hello, Twitter! It’s Barack. Really!” quickly drew a response from an ex-president.
…and a great white shark became a Twitter star. She goes by @MaryLeeShark and is cruising America’s east coast.
Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, Fitbit takedowns, and celebrity shark sightings to email@example.com. You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.