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Facebook reports, and Tesco’s historic loss — 5 things to know today

April 22, 2015, 12:07 PM UTC
Photograph by Karen Bleier — AFP/Getty Images

Hello friends and Fortune readers.

Wall Street stock futures are slightly lower this morning. European shares are also muted, while Asian indexes closed mostly higher.

Earnings keep rolling in this morning from big names such as Boeing (BA), Coca-Cola (KO), Qualcomm (QCOM), and McDonald’s (MCD). Facebook (FB) reports results later in the day, and late Tuesday Yahoo (YHOO) said its quarterly earnings and revenue both missed expectations.

Here’s what else you need to know about.

1. Facebook reports first-quarter earnings.

Facebook is set to reveal how it did in the first three months this year after the market closes. Analysts expect the social media powerhouse to reveal strong growth in revenue due to mobile and video advertising. Mobile was especially strong for Facebook in the fourth quarter last year, accounting for about 69% of ad sales. Beyond the top-line earnings numbers (analysts expect Facebook to post revenues of $3.56 billion, up 42% year-over-year), investors will be paying close attention to user numbers. WhatsApp, the global chat platform it bought in February 2014, could reach 1 billion users by the end of this year. Instagram currently has more than 300 million users.

2. Tesco’s historic loss underlines its ‘annus horribilis.’

Tesco, the UK’s biggest retailer, posted a $9.6 billion full-year loss — the worst in its 96-year history, and one of the biggest corporate losses in the U.K. ever. The record loss underlines what’s been a terrible year for Tesco. The company is under criminal investigation for overstating profits, facing a class action lawsuit from investors, scrapped its dividend and has a $5.9 billion gap in its company pension plan. Tesco found a bright spot: same-store sales in the UK improved for the first time in four years.

3. Japan posts its first trade surplus since 2012.

Given a weaker yen and an ongoing U.S. recovery, Japan was able to post its first trade surplus in three years. It was also helped out by lower oil prices, which helped depress its total import bill. Japan’s trade balance took a hit in 2011 following the earthquake that led to the closure of the nation’s nuclear plants. Nuclear power used to provide nearly a third of the nation’s energy requirements. Now, Japan must make up for the energy shortfall by importing large amounts of liquefied natural gas, coal and oil–leading to its massive import bills and growing trade deficit. At the same time, exports have grown for seven straight months given Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s economic policies aimed at weakening the yen.
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4. Comcast and Time Warner Cable court the Justice Department’s approval.

Company executives from the two cable television behemoths meet with U.S. Justice Department officials in Washington today to kickoff discussions around whether the government’s antitrust concerns are strong enough to kill the merger or if they can strike a compromise that would prevent potential harms and keep the deal alive. Comcast (CMCSA) and Time Warner Cable (TWC) have been trying to close their $45 billion merger, but concerns over decreased competition has left its fate in the hands of federal officials. Comcast says the merger will result in better service for customers, but consumers, rival entertainment companies and Internet streaming services don’t see that happening.

5. EU launches antitrust case against Gazprom.

EU officials filed formal charges against Gazprom today for what it says is an abuse of its dominant position. The European Commission said Gazprom has created barriers to competition in the gas markets of Central and Eastern Europe. “All companies that operate in the European market — no mater if they are European or not–have to play by our EU rules,” said Margrethe Vestager, the bloc’s antitrust chief. Europe gets about one-third of its gas from Russia, but they risk creating a huge rift with Moscow over the charges. Gazprom has close ties with the Kremlin and a pushback on Gazprom’s policies could be seen as a direct challenge to President Vladimir Putin.
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