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The Fed, GM and a Twitter update–5 things to know today

Fed chair Janet YellenFed chair Janet Yellen
Fed chair Janet YellenPhotograph by Chip Somodevilla — Getty Images

Hello friends and Fortune readers.

Wall Street stock futures are opening higher this morning, in more of a mind to focus on merger news and relatively strong corporate earnings than the ongoing volatility in China and slumping commodity prices. The dollar is hitting new highs against ‘commodity currencies’ such as Brazil’s real and the Russian ruble as oil prices approach their April lows.

Today’s must-read story is by Fortune’s Robert Hackett on the one text that could bring down nearly 1 billion smartphones. The vulnerability is called “Stagefright” and is one of the worst to affect Google’s Android platform. Read more here.

Here’s what else you need to know today.

1. U.S. economic updates.

Today starts the July two-day meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee. Interest rates will likely remain near zero after this meeting, though new hints as to when the group may raise rates could come after this policy meeting.

There’s also a slew of economic updates coming today. The Conference Board releases an update on U.S. consumer sentiment, which likely fell to 100 in July from 101.4 in June. The S&P/Case Shiller index on home prices will also come out, and analysts expect prices in 20 metropolitan areas to have gained 5.6% in May. Also out, Markit reveals updated Purchasing Managers Index for July, which is likely up to 55.0 from 54.8 in June.


2. GM’s “Emerging Markets” car

General Motors Co is to invest $5 billion over the next several years to develop a new family of Chevrolet vehicles with its Chinese partner Shanghai Automotive, aimed at faster-growing emerging markets. The initiative is driven partly by a desire to fend off pressure for a merger with Fiat Chrysler by making better use GM’s own global network of partners.

3. Are sales of expensive new hepatitis C treatments slowing?

Gilead Sciences (GILD) will report its second-quarter results today. The company is the maker of expensive new hepatitis C drugs Solvadi and Harvoni, which can cost upwards of $1,000 a day for the treatment. Investors are keen to see if these drugs have been selling well after AbbVie said its rival treatment’s sales were slowing. Gilead has also had its eye out for potential companies to buy–and investors will be eager to hear more.

Other pharmaceutical companies reporting today include Pfizer (PFE) and Merck & Co. (MRK). Both are likely to see their bottom lines hit by the stronger dollar.

4. Twitter reports.

Twitter (TWTR) will report its second-quarter results after the market close today. The social media company has been battling to amp up user growth that has been starting to slow down, and on top of that, its quarterly revenues are expected to miss analysts’ expectations. Twitter warned that its new direct response advertisements, which allow users to click directly through to a company’s site or product, didn’t generate as many sales as it had expected. On top of that, the company has been on a hunt for a new CEO since Dick Costolo stepped down last month and co-founder Jack Dorsey stepped-in the run the company in the interim.

Other tech companies reporting today: consumer review website Yelp (YELP) and online food-delivery service GrubHub (GRUB).


5. FCC heads to the Capitol for review.

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler and senior Republican Commissioner Ajit Pai step up before the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee for an oversight hearing. The two men are expected to field questions about Net neutrality and the recent approval of the AT&T-DirecTV merger. “The commission has and will continue to tackle tough issues that shape the future of communications in the United States,” subcommittee Ranking Member Greg Walden told The Hill. “We look forward to hearing from Chairman Wheeler and Commissioner Pai on recent developments at the FCC, their plans for the fall, and what efforts the FCC has made to fix its broken process.”