What to watch for today
The anti-ISIL coalition meets in Brussels. Defense ministers from 66 countries will meet at NATO headquarters to discuss the conflict in Syria. US defense secretary Ash Carter is expected to share plans to retake parts of Syria and Iraq from ISIL, and call upon other nations to play a bigger role against the group.
A huge discovery could reaffirm Albert Einstein’s genius. A team of US physicists is expected to announce their discovery of clear, unambiguous evidence of gravitational waves, 100 years after the physicist first predicted their existence. The team’s work could earn them a Nobel Prize, if it holds up.
A gaming giant reports earnings. Investors in Activision Blizzard will expect an update on the $5.9 billion acquisition of King Digital, the smartphone game maker behind Candy Crush Saga. A recent deal with Apple TV could also prove a successful platform for new revenue.
Earnings: PepsiCo is expected to offset a global decline in demand for fizzy, sugary drinks with strong results from its massive snacks unit. AIG, CBS, Thompson Reuters, and Time Inc. are among other companies also reporting earnings.
While you were sleeping
Hong Kong’s stock market had a historic fall. The Hang Seng index dropped by 3.8% in morning trading—the biggest tumble to start a Chinese new year since 1994. That followed riots earlier this week ostensibly over a police crackdown on unlicensed hawker stalls, but really over Beijing’s heavy hand.
The US backed sanctions against North Korea. The Senate unanimously voted for increased economic restrictions on anyone involved in the country’s rocket or weapons program. The move, which president Barack Obama has yet to sign, follows further sanctions by South Korea and Japan.
Twitter’s user growth hit the ceiling. The micro-blogging company’s active monthly users failed to grow at all in the fourth quarter (and actually dropped, according to some metrics) from the three months previous. But it reduced its quarterly loss to $90.2 million, from $125.4 million a year earlier; shares fell in after-hours trading.
Tesla’s charm masked some pretty dire results. The carmaker posted fourth-quarter sales on the low end of expectations, with losses far deeper than anticipated, and said that its cash pile fell to $1.2 billion, from $1.9 billion a year earlier. But it promised it would be profitable this year, and shares rose more than 10%.
Whole Foods reported a mixed quarter. The upscale US grocery chain posted a fourth-quarter decline in same-store sales but a better-than-expected net income. Higher overall sales also helped prevent the share price from falling too sharply. The store has been focusing on value-priced goods.
Quartz obsession interlude
Gwynn Guilford on what would happen if Donald Trump became the US president. “In a word, chaos. In two, expensive chaos… But here’s the surprise: While most of his proposals are sheer lunacy, some of his economic proposals are grounded in a surprisingly well-developed worldview—one that could arguably help American workers, though not without enormous disruption.” Read more here.
Look, Janet Yellen
Those ugly markets
Matters of debate
A basic pillar of finance is crumbling. Negative interest rates have turned financial logic upside-down.
The world’s richest countries are a ticking demographic time bomb. The year 2040 is not looking good.
There’s a microcephaly-causing virus even scarier than Zika. Cytomegalovirus is already just about everywhere.
Egypt’s presidential motorcade drove along a two-mile (3.2 km) red carpet. It was visiting some of Cairo’s poorest people.
Chinese prostitutes are flooding into Africa. An increase in Chinese expats there, and rising local wages, are fueling the boom.
Colorado now has a billion-dollar marijuana industry. It’s earned the state more than $135 million in taxes.
More twins are being born in developed countries. An increase in older women giving birth is the likely cause.
China is reshaping soccer. Taking advantage of Brazil’s economic downturn, Chinese clubs have been signing some of the country’s top players.