Good morning Quartz readers!
What to watch for today
Boeing under more scrutiny. Executives will have to take hard questions from investors when the company reports earnings today. Its new Dreamliner aircraft remain grounded and under investigation for mechanical problems, and it’s still not clear when problems related to the plane’s lithium-ion batteries will be resolved.
The BlackBerry 10 is unveiled, no surprises expected. After months of leaks, Research in Motion is expected to formally show off its attempt to enter the high-end smartphone market. Cue renewed debate about whether the company is in terminal decline: Some say no, while we say yes. We’re also watching for how the Blackberry 10 does in Indonesia, as an acid test for RIM’s fate in emerging markets.
The Fed hands down its latest vision on monetary easing. Analysts expect the US Federal Reserve’s Open Market Committee (FOMC) to continue its current, unlimited asset-buying program, the third round of “quantitative easing,” in its attempts to stimulate the economy. But we won’t know until Feb. 20, when minutes of the meeting are released, whether any FOMC members repeated the worries about the side effects of ultra-low interest rates that they aired at the December meeting.
Investors cross their fingers on Facebook. The social media giant reports earnings after market close. The company’s shares have climbed more than 60% since September, but are still well below their IPO price, and whether the firm can make money off its mobile applications and its newly announced Graph Search remains to be seen.
While you were sleeping
Australia kicks off election season early… Prime Minister Julia Gillard sprung a surprise by announcing polls nearly eight months in advance “in the interest of transparency.” Meanwhile Australia’s stock market posted the biggest daily gain in eight years. Interest rate cuts, an improving outlook in China and rising business confidence have contributed to an exceptional bounce for equities.
Sumitomo Mitsui reported bumper results amid cheerful markets. Japan’s second-largest bank posted net income of ¥550 billion ($6 billion) for the final nine months of 2012, far exceeding projections and outdoing the same numbers from last year by 34%. The Nikkei, which gained 17% last quarter, ended the day at a 33-month high. The Hang Seng closed at its highest in 21 months.
Dell wants to control Dell. Michael Dell hopes to win back majority control of the US computer maker he founded by adding his own money to a buyout by Silver Lake Management.
Catalonia wants more money while Spain’s recession deepens. It doesn’t like Madrid but it needs the cash—€9.1 billion of it. Catalonia, which will hold a referendum on independence from Spain in 2014, has requested the funds to help fulfill bond payments for 2013. The timing is a bit awkward: Spain reported a worse-than-expected contraction with GDP falling 0.7% in the last quarter of 2012.
South Korea launched its first civilian rocket into space. After two failed attempts in the past four years, South Korea has sent a research satellite into orbit. The move ratchets up tensions on the Korean peninsula where just a month ago, North Korea also successfully launched a rocket, which some say is a cover for development of a long-range missile program.
Quartz obsession interlude
David Yanofsky on why you should stop treating your cell phone like a pocket watch: “We have been so distracted by all of the features of smart phones that we failed to notice the absurdity of the way we use them. If anything, usage of the quintessential 21st century technology is more reminiscent of a distinctively obsolete 19th century device: the pocket watch. Perhaps, not for much longer.” Read more here.
Matters of debate
Headwinds for the EU financial sector? The worst may seem to be over, but uncertain progress on an EU banking supervisor and a lack of shorter-term bank recapitalizations leave the financial system at risk.
The Chinese government is a prisoner of its own propaganda. The country’s leaders once used anti-Japan sentiment to hold the country together. Have their plans backfired?
Should Mali be be considered part of the Middle East? It’s not an entirely academic debate.
How much should we fear terrorism? Not as much as we used to.
Murderous cats. Researchers found that cats in the US—both domesticated and feral—kill 1.4-3.7 billion birds and 6.9-20.7 billion mammals per year.
Want an Oscar for best foreign film? Make a movie in French. It’s got the best chance of being nominated.
The pill didn’t cause the sexual revolution. Penicillin did.
Would you vote for Julian Assange? No? His mother would. The Wikileaks founder intends to run for Australia’s senate—though he may have some trouble getting there from the Ecuadorean embassy in London.