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What's News: Trump Renews Call for Border Wall in Address; OPEC Pursues Russia Pact; Executives Need to Revisit Their Yearbooks
Here’s what we’re watching as the U.S. business day gets under way:
Trump seeks to reset the wall debate. In his State of the Union address, President Trump renewed his call for a wall on the southern U.S. border, but without repeating his recent threats to declare an emergency.
Trump, North Korea's Kim to meet this month. The president will meet for the second time with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Vietnam from Feb. 27-28, he revealed during his speech.
Stacey Abrams targets Trump's immigration policy. In the Democratic response, the former Democratic nominee for Georgia governor pushed back against the president's immigration policy and said GOP legislative efforts had shortchanged the middle class.
Trump preaches unity, though immigration intrudes. The question hovering over the State of the Union speech is whether it's possible to step around the immigration fight to avoid another shutdown, writes Gerald F. Seib.
OPEC pursues a formal pact with Russia. Saudi Arabia and its Persian Gulf allies are seeking a formal partnership with a 10-nation group led by Russia to try to manage the global oil market. The ability of such an alliance to put a floor on oil prices would run counter to President Trump's goal of lowering gasoline prices but could ultimately benefit a booming U.S. oil industry.
Apple's retail chief Angela Ahrendts to depart. Ms. Ahrendts, who is one of Apple’s most highly paid executives and most prominent female leaders, leaves the tech giant as it wrestles with flagging iPhone sales. She will be succeeded by a longtime operations executive who now runs human resources.
Spotify signals its ambitions with podcasting push. The world's biggest music-streaming company says it's buying a pair of podcasting companies, accelerating its investment in non-music content as it seeks to increase its share of listening time from radio. The plans come as the company reports its first-ever operating profit for the fourth quarter.
Goldman to cut back its commodities-trading arm. The retreat by the bank follows a monthslong review under new CEO David Solomon that showed the commodities business’s dwindling profits didn't justify its costs.
It's another big day in earnings. GM and Spotify will report before the bell, while Chipotle will report after the market closes. As we reach the halfway point in the S&P 500’s fourth-quarter earnings season, investors are obsessing over financial reports and downgraded profit forecasts. Here’s a heresy: This doesn’t matter nearly as much as people think, writes James Mackintosh.
LUCAS LANDAU FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
"It's easier to count the living." As more bodies are recovered after last month’s deadly dam collapse in Brazil, concerns are spreading across a country where vast natural resources have created companies that often wield more power than local governments.
Flip the script: Drugmakers blame middlemen for price hikes. Under pressure over rising drug prices, pharmaceutical companies are pushing a new defense: They’re not raising prices to make money or to cover research costs, but rather to pay a cut to middlemen in the supply chain.
Democratic presidential hopefuls embrace cash transfers for the poor. Several prominent Democrats are pressing for redistributing wealth to low-income families in a bid to make income inequality a defining issue of the 2020 presidential elections. The latest effort is more far-reaching and aims to move cash directly into the hands of low-income Americans.
President Trump plays a starring role in Netanyahu's re-election bid. The embattled Israeli prime minister is putting Mr. Trump at the center of his campaign, aiming to leverage close ties with Washington as he faces pressure from political rivals and a possible indictment on corruption charges.
In the quest for one billion users, Uber turns to the Middle East. Lured by the region’s exploding youth population, the ride-hailing company is intensifying its pursuit of Middle East riders after retreating from costly fights in other international markets.
Business leaders need to revisit yearbooks. As the scandal engulfing Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam shows, old yearbooks don’t simply gather dust on bookshelves. Business executives and owners are being advised to conduct ‘opposition analysis’ on themselves to see if damaging pre-digital images could come to light.
How to lose weight, with the help of technology. There are about as many approaches to weight loss as there are kinds of food. Technology can not only help dieters find their own best path, but it can also make dieting itself easier, smoother and more supportive.
Highlights from our technology coverage
1. You can stream great TV without spending a dime. In a world where Netflix, Hulu and HBO subscriptions start to add up, streaming television and movie services that are supported by ads don’t cost anything. They don’t get enough attention, David Pierce writes.
2. That time Elon Musk welcomed ‘Zach,’ Tesla’s newest exec. The introduction of CFO Zach Kirkhorn at the end of an earnings conference call marked the latest C-suite shake-up at the electric auto maker and thrust a 34-year-old relative unknown into the spotlight at one of Silicon Valley’s most heavily scrutinized companies.
3. When tech titans battle, consumers often get hurt. Apple’s recent disciplinarian smack to Facebook and Google reminded the world what power the iPhone maker has over not only other major companies, but anyone using a phone, tablet or computer bearing its famous logo, Christopher Mims writes.
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— Brian R. Fitzgerald
Chart of the Day
Investors are still feeling the sting of volatility bets. Plenty of investors are still scarred by what happened exactly one year ago, when the Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged 1,175 points, the largest single-day point drop in its history. Some analysts and investors said at the time that the massive unwind of short-vol trades exacerbated the volatility, causing the selloff to last until Feb. 8, 2018.
This Day in History
Feb. 6, 1952
Princess Elizabeth Becomes Queen
After King George VI of Great Britain died in his sleep, Princess Elizabeth, the oldest of his two daughters, succeeded him to the throne. The princess and her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, were on a trip to Kenya at the time of the king's death. She was crowned Queen Elizabeth II on June 2, 1953, at the age of 27. On Sept. 9, 2015, she became the longest-reigning British monarch.