Google billboards and Hope Depot reports — 5 things to know today

November 18, 2014, 1:10 PM UTC
Photograph by Kevork Djansezian — Getty Images

Good morning, friends and Fortune readers.

The Nikkei closed up 2% today on news that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has called for a snap election two years before voters are due to go to the polls again. This follows the unexpected news yesterday that the Japanese economy had fallen into a recession. Today we’ve also got earnings from Home Depot and some newer, brighter lights coming to New York City. Here’s what you need to know:

1. Home Depot has a good morning

There hasn’t been a lot of good news for Home Depot (HD) lately — security hacks have seen to that. Today there was good news, though, as the home improvement chain beat analyst expectations for earnings. The company brought in $20.5 billion in revenue, up $1 billion from the same quarter last year.

2. Keystone Pipeline comes to a vote

Last week, the House approved the completion of the Keystone XL Pipeline. Today, the lame duck Senate will vote, with some saying there are at least 60 yes votes, including 15 Democrats. This would send the bill to President Barack Obama, though there is at least a chance he would veto it.

3. Housing market update

Since the financial crisis, the housing market has continually been a source of stress for economic watchers — another update comes today in the NAHB Housing Market Index, which measures the strength of the market for single-family homes. The number last month was a fairly neutral 54. There’s been no forecast for this month, but other housing numbers have generally been up recently.

4. Hong Kong protests get cleared out

The ongoing protests in Hong Kong were cleared out by officials yesterday, reports the BBC. Unlike in some other protester/police confrontations — the 2011 clearing of the Occupy Wall Street protestors from Zuccotti Park comes to mind — there was no violence, with student protestors helping take down the camp.

5. Bright lights, big city

A new digital billboard is coming to New York City’s Times Square, and it will be the biggest and most expensive in the are known for things both big and expensive. The screen will light up tonight, and will be leased by Google (GOOG) between Nov. 24 and the New Year.

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