What to watch for today
Central bankers huddle. The European Central Bank is expected to keep its benchmark interest rate at 0.75%, though it might signal future rate cuts. As expected, Japan left its rate unchanged while also vetoing a proposal to ramp up debt purchases. Central bank policymakers in England conclude meeting this evening.
Grades for US banks. US regulators release results of stress tests on the biggest American banks to see how well they would weather financial shocks. US trade data for January and initial jobless claims for the week ending March 3 will also be published.
Facebook renews feed. The ambitiously named news feed—the landing page for logged-in users—will get a major redesign, Facebook will announce in California today. In other Facebook news, the company added Susan Desmond-Hellmann, chancellor of the University of California in San Francisco, to its board of directors, bringing the total of women board members to two out of nine.
Bombardier talks about its CSeries jets. The aircraft maker holds a briefing to explain why, four years after beginning its foray into the single-aisle jetliner business, it has sold only 180 of the planes, well shy of its goal of 300 sales by mid-2014.
While you were sleeping
An Italian court sentenced former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi to a one-year jail term. The judgment relates to a 2005 banking scandal, and Berlusconi likely wouldn’t have to serve any prison time until all court appeals are exhausted.
Rand Paul finally stopped talking. After some 13 hours on the floor, the Republican senator finished speaking at 12.38 am ET. Paul is deeply skeptical about the use of drones to kill American citizens without due process and is seeking to block the nomination of John Brennan, the so-called architect of the program, as head of the CIA. Meanwhile, Obama had dinner with several GOP senators to discuss the state of America’s finances.
Aviva reported losses, cut dividends. Britain’s second-largest insurer lost £3 billion ($4.5 billion) before taxes in 2012 and cut its dividends to 6 pence from 16 pence the previous year. And executive directors will get neither bonuses for last year nor pay hikes for this year. “Ghastly,” in the words of one analyst.
Australia’s trade deficit shot up in January. Slowing coal exports hit Australia hard as the deficit jumped from A$688 million (US$705 million) in December to A$1.06 billion in January.
Time Warner will spin off its print unit. After a deal to sell part of its magazine business to Meredith Corp fell through, Time Warner has decided to do the next best thing—lump its print operations together and hope they float.
Still no results in Kenya’s presidential election—but beginnings of controversy. Airplanes and helicopters flew around the country to collect votes after electronic polls broke down, delaying a conclusion to the contentious race. Now the running mate of Raila Odinga, a frontrunner, wants the counting stopped, paving the way for the sort of uncertainty that led to violence in 2007.
Quartz obsession interlude
Matt Phillips on how the Dow isn’t the only stock-market metric breaking records. “The 30 large, blue-chip firms [the Dow is] comprised of can’t possibly reflect the breadth of the world’s largest economy. The S&P is considered a better bellwether by most professionals, and the S&P is lagging the Dow’s move higher, but is pushing in the same general direction. More importantly, there are a number of telling stock market measures that are telegraphing similar optimism on the US economy by rising over their previous high-water marks.” Read more here.
Matters of debate
China’s solar industry is primed for either collapse or consolidation…depending on the fate of Suntech, the world’s biggest photovoltaic panel maker, which has to pay off a $541 million payment on convertible notes by March 15.
Hugo Chávez wasn’t that important. The Latin American leader you should care about is La Maestra, Elba Esther Gordillo, the recently jailed head of the Mexican teachers’ union and epitome of corrupt Latin American union bosses.
People without kids deserve work flexibility too. Working moms, and dads, are up in arms over Yahoo’s decision not to let employees work from home, but what about childless, single employees?
Four ways the human race could become extinct. Forget asteroids, global warming and super-volcanoes: it’s artificial intelligence you really need to worry about.
M. Night Shyamalan sees ed people. The director of the “Sixth Sense” has an upcoming book on a chilling topic: education reform.
When it’s safe to criticize the government in China. A new study says that roughly 4,200 censors employed by the Twitter-like platform Sina Weibo take a break at around 7 p.m., to watch the evening news.
Chinese “farmscrapers” combine style and ecology. The city of Shenzhen has commissioned a French architecture firm to create six swiveling towers that will grow food for its tenants.
The world’s largest ramen-maker lost $2.4 billion in value because Chinese xenophobes dislike Japan.
Sometimes airlines really do try harder. United Airlines held a plane to help a man reach his dying mother in time to say goodbye. Meanwhile, a Dreamliner pilot for Air India raps about life with the 787s grounded (caution, strong language).
Correction: In yesterday’s newsletter we incorrectly said that Bank of Japan governor Masaaki Shirakawa was stepping down on March 8. It is actually March 19.
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