What to watch for today
A major free-trade deal finally goes ahead. Japan, the United States, and 10 other Trans-Pacific Partnership nations will hold two days of meetings in New Zealand before the controversial treaty is signed. Local businesses have been advised to close their doors due to expected protests.
The UK and EU both debate Britain’s new role in Europe. British prime minister David Cameron has to convince Parliament that proposals to change the relationship between Brussels and member countries are sufficient. Meanwhile, MEPs are debating the contents of the proposed new deal in the European Parliament.
German scientists take a crack at nuclear fusion. A team is set to heat hydrogen until it reaches the same temperature as the center of the sun. The test, likely attended by chancellor Angela Merkel, is intended to advance understanding of the potentially clean and unlimited source of energy.
Two data sets on the US economy. Analysts expect 195,000 non-farm jobs were added to the economy in January, down from over 250,000 in December. Separately, the country’s services sector is expected to show slower growth in the month.
Keurig and others updates their investors. The single-serve coffee machine maker is expected to post lacklustre sales figures as it faces a saturated market. But investors will expect an update on Europe’s JAB Holdings’s planned $13.9-billion takeover. Comcast, Yum! Brands, and General Motors will also report quarterly results.
While you were sleeping
ChemChina bought Syngenta for $43 billion. The state-owned agro-chemicals company agreed the highest price tag ever paid by a Chinese company for a foreign business. The value of shares in Syngenta, the world’s largest pesticide producer, rose by 6%.
China set a new GDP target. Beijing intends to grow its economy by between 6.5% and 7% this year, reflecting a slowdown from last year’s target of about 7%. The National Development and Reform Commission, which announced the figure, said it would also curb “zombie companies.”
Mark Zuckerberg became the world’s fourth-richest man. The Facebook founder is now worth $50 billion thanks to a share price that is defying global pessimism. Zuckerberg surpassed Amazon’s founder Jeff Bezos to take the number-four slot.
Australia ruled in favor of detaining asylum seekers overseas. The High Court dismissed a challenge to the legality of keeping detention centers in Nauru and Papua New Guinea, which currently hold around 1,400 people. A legal NGO brought the case to try to prevent nearly 270 people being deported to the islands.
The euro zone’s service sector underwhelmed. The Markit purchasing managers’ index for the economic bloc fell to 53.6 in January, from 54.3 in December, indicating a slower rate of expansion. The UK’s took a surprise leap to 55.6, after analysts expected a decline.
Lenovo posted the first sales decline in six years. The world’s largest PC maker reported an 8% drop in fiscal third-quarter revenue, to $12.9 billion. Shares fell by 11% as Lenovo struggles with a maturing smartphone market and flat PC sales.
Quartz obsession interlude
Ana Campoy on Latin America’s surprising gender parity. “Unlike companies in Europe, Canada, and the US, where the focus has been on recruiting women for top positions, firms in Latin America are adding more female workers across the board, from support staff to executives. In fact, they are hiring women at a higher rate than men at every career level, except at the manager level.” Read more here.
Matters of debate
We need a global marketplace for movies and music. The Netflix ban on VPNs won’t help until demand for foreign TV is satisfied.
Hillary Clinton is being pigeon–holed as the disciplinarian “mom.” Her Democratic presidential rival Bernie Sanders gets to be the fun “dad.”
Don’t let Zika remind you of Ebola. They’ve both been declared “public health emergencies,” but Zika should be approached differently.
Some of Microsoft’s cloud is underwater. An undersea data center takes advantage of the sea’s natural cooling properties.
Elon Musk can be vindictive. He allegedly personally cancelled a blogger’s Tesla order after a “rude” post.
Anti-perspirants can make you smellier. They can kill the good bacteria in your armpits.
A Mumbai landfill fire is so large it can be seen from space. It’s been burning for a week.
Amnesty International is planning a holographic protest. It will project life-sized images of marchers in Seoul to defend free speech.