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Gunboat diplomacy and Apple earnings — 5 things to know today

Inside An Apple Inc. Store As The New iPhones Are ReleasedInside An Apple Inc. Store As The New iPhones Are Released
iPhonePhotograph by David Paul Morris — Bloomberg via Getty Images

Hello friends and Fortune readers.

Wall Street stock futures are mixed Tuesday in the absence of major international news overnight. The dollar is also flat against the euro, with markets unimpressed by reports of a tentative deal among GOP leaders to raise the debt ceiling and avoid a government shutdown. Crude oil prices are down amid continuing concerns of oversupply, underlined by BP’s announcement of new measures to adapt to a lower medium-term crude price.

Today’s must-read story is from Fortune‘s Adam Lashinsky and it at the potential for an eventual burn-rate bust for the current heralded group of tech unicorns, some of whom are having more difficulty raising money and could see their valuations drop.

Here’s what else you need to know today.

1. U.S. Navy challenges China in disputed waters

Gunboat diplomacy is back. A U.S. Navy ship, the USS Lassen, has ventured into the waters around the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, in a move apparently calculated to test the reaction of China, which claims them. The move comes barely a month after China sent its naval vessels to patrol off the coast of Alaska while President Barack Obama was on an official visit there.

2. Apple earnings

The tech and retail giant posts earnings today for the fourth-quarter and the company’s full fiscal year. Apple (AAPL) is expected to beat Wall Street’s revenue forecasts thanks to strong sales for its new line of smartphones, the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus. A panel of analysts polled by Fortune predicted that iPhone sales grew by about 24% last quarter, to 48.7 million phones.

3. Fed meeting begins

Leaders from the U.S. Federal Reserve will meet again to set the nation’s monetary policy, gathering today for the start of a two-day meeting. Last month, the central bank opted to wait to raise interest rates for the first time in nearly a decade due to uncertainty over the global economy. Most economists do not expect the Fed to raise interest rates this month, though Fed chair Janet Yellen has maintained that the central bank will likely need to implement a long-awaited rate hike before the end of the year.

4. Drug and chemical earnings

DuPont (DD) is expected to post a dip in third-quarter profit, thanks to the strong U.S. dollar as well as disappointing results from emerging markets. Investors will be looking to see whether or not new CEO Edward Breen, who took over after Ellen Kullman stepped out of the role earlier this month, will reveal further cost-cutting measures in an effort to avoid another proxy battle with activist investor Nelson Peltz. Also reporting third-quarter earnings today are drug companies Pfizer (PFE) and Merck (MRK), with the former expected to provide a plan for its underperforming generic drugs business while Merck will need to point toward promising products in its drug pipeline to take attention away from its depressed share price.

5. Mets-Royals Game 1

Barring bad weather, tonight marks the start of baseball’s World Series, in which the New York Mets and Kansas City Royals battle for the MLB championship. The series is expected to be a hot ticket in both cities, as neither team has won a championship in a few decades. For the Mets, the October success represents a major rebound, both in the standings and financially, as the team has managed to erase much of the debt its owners faced just a few years ago — the result of the owners getting wrapped up in Bernard Madoff’s infamous Ponzi scheme.

 

— Reuters contributed to this post.