Sony halts ‘The Interview’ and Putin’s speech — 5 things to know today

December 18, 2014, 1:13 PM UTC
APTOPIX Sony Hack Theaters
A poster for the movie "The Interview" is carried away by a worker after being pulled from a display case at a Carmike Cinemas movie theater, Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014, in Atlanta. Georgia-based Carmike Cinemas has decided to cancel its planned showings of "The Interview" in the wake of threats against theatergoers by the Sony hackers. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Photograph by David Goldman — AP

Good morning, friends and Fortune readers.

It looks like another strong day for the markets Thursday, as stock futures point to a sharply higher open after the Dow surged 288 points Wednesday in response to the Fed’s most recent policy decision. The Fed set the stage for a rate hike in 2015, but reiterated that such a move would be contingent upon the state of the economy.

Also Wednesday, President Obama announced the normalization of relations with Cuba more than 50 years after the blockade began (and, to be fair, more than 20 years after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War.) The Cuba news could have a big impact on the U.S. economy, particularly in vice industries such as alcohol and tobacco.

Here’s what you need to know about in business news today.

1. Sony halts ‘The Interview’

Sony Pictures made a big move in the ongoing hacking scandal yesterday, postponing — and possibly canceling — the release of the film “The Interview” following threats from the group called the “Guardians of Peace.” Sony (SNE), as well as theater chains who had already said they would not show the film, took plenty of heat on social media from people claiming they caved to terrorist threats.

2. Nike takes an earnings run

The athletic company based in Portland, Ore., (much to the chagrin of some young execs) will release earnings this afternoon, and the company is expected to report higher earnings per share rise from a year ago. One thing to watch for will be the effect of currency volatility on Nike’s (NKE) overseas operations.

3. Amazon launches Prime Now

Amazon (AMZN) has launched Prime Now, a service offering one-hour delivery on thousands of products. It’s the newest benefit for Amazon Prime members, and offers delivery of daily essentials through a mobile app.

4. Putin speaks

Vladimir Putin talked about the state of the Russian nation today, and his talk was, well, wide-ranging. He said the Russian economy and the ruble will rebound, and he wouldn’t commit to whether or not he would stand for election again in 2018. Putin also, as is his wont, got metaphorical, comparing Russia to a bear protecting its territory. He said economic growth would return by 2017.

5. Swiss go negative

Switzerland’s central bank said it would introduce negative interest rates to stop further currency appreciation, making its most desperate attempt yet to save local industry from a disastrous currency appreciation caused by inflows of capital seeking a ‘safe haven’ from turbulent markets across the world, writes Fortune’s Geoffrey Smith.

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