What to watch for today
Earnings season starts, but don’t get too excited. Alcoa unofficially kicks off the latest quarterly earnings reports, with JP Morgan, BlackRock, and Citigroup announcing later in the week. Analysts forecast a 4.2% decline in earnings for Standard & Poor’s 500 companies in the fourth quarter.
General Motors is taken to court. The US automaker will face a trial to decide whether injuries sustained in a 2014 car crash were the result of a faulty ignition switch. The trial is one of several “bellwether” cases over the defect.
The North American International Auto Show opens. The annual car show in Detroit, which runs until Jan. 24, will likely focus more on passenger and electric cars, over trucks and SUVs. That’s despite low gas prices and consumer trucks and crossover vehicles representing the majority of US sales in December.
Over the weekend
More pain from the markets. China’s CSI 300 dropped by over 2% in morning trading, after Australia’s ASX 200 tanked in its morning. Aussie stocks were spooked by further falls in commodities prices, sending them briefly to a two-and-a-half-year low.
The US flexed its muscles at North Korea. It flew a B-52 bomber at low altitude over South Korea, in response to the North’s apparent nuclear bomb tests last week. The B-52, stationed in Guam, is capable of carrying nuclear warheads.
Thousands protested in Hong Kong. Activists took to the streets to protest the disappearance of five people connected to a book shop that stocked material banned in mainland China. Roughly 6,000 protesters marched, even though the wife of one of the missing asked them not to.
Elon Musk offered more hints on autonomous cars. Tesla owners will soon be able to summon their cars from across the US, using their phones, the electric car maker’s CEO said yesterday. Musk made that announcement as current vehicles received an upgrade enabling them to park themselves and prepare for drives.
Greece’s opposition got a new leader. Kyriakos Mitsotakis—who’s called prime minister Alexis Tsipras a liar in the past—was voted president of the center-right New Democracy Party. Mitsotakis, who’s had to fend off accusations of being a Thatcherite from his own party, has hinted that he could work with Tsipras on certain issues.
Egypt had its first parliament in three years. The legislative body met for the first time yesterday to begin the process of ratifying presidential decrees issued by Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. Those up for debate include a “terror law” that restricts press freedom and gives police wider powers.
A record US lottery had no winners. The Saturday night US Powerball jackpot found no home for its $949.8 million payout, making the expected Wednesday sum $1.3 billion. This pushes it ever closer to actually being worth it for ticket buyers.
Quartz obsession interlude
Olivia Goldhill on the evidence that suggests “baby brain” makes you more intelligent. “Kinsley tells Quartz his research was inspired by watching his own wife’s behavior shortly after giving birth. ‘I noticed my wife becoming much more efficient and able to do everything she did before, plus take care of a new baby. I put these ideas into the lab and started testing them and it was just like finding a gold mine,’ he says.” Read more here.
Matters of debate
France is still in denial over its terror attacks. Its government won’t properly address the troubling reality that deadly attacks were carried out by its own citizens.
El Chapo will escape again. Public officials’ collusion with organized criminals will ensure that Mexico’s drug kingpin is out before long.
Obnoxiousness is the new charisma. The two frontrunners in the Republican primary are unreservedly smug and unabashedly mean (paywall). And this seems to appeal to short attention spans.
A US constitutional amendment once suggested that acts of war go to a national vote. Should it have passed, it would have required pro-war voters to join the army.
Dinosaurs danced as a form of foreplay. Scrape marks left by the creatures add to evidence that dinosaurs danced to woo mates.
Allergies may have developed when humans mated with Neanderthals. Offspring who survived from the inter-species relationships have a higher chance of suffering from asthma and hay fever.
Sugar gliders are taking over Instagram. The cute flying squirrels are popping up all over people’s feeds.